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Prepping for an event: Twitter, gear and damage control

Heading to a live event in the next little while as media? Here’s some tips to get the most out of your preparation.

In the past I’ve written posts for gaming/esports/nerd professionals who might be travelling to places like conventions, tournaments or expos. I think preparation for these events is a large part of being successful at them, and sometimes you can get blindsided by things you don’t expect.

So in an effort to make things better, here’s a few things I’m thinking about before I venture to Pound 2016 this next week.

Make a list, check it twice

You should make a gear list and check it before you leave, not just to forget anything, but to make it easier to eliminate things that might weigh you down. Especially if you’re operating out of a backpack, having something heavy on your back all day can really wear down your event stamina. Not having that makes you more susceptible to getting sick, and no one wants that.

Otherwise, everything you need at a base level should be pretty transparent: chargers, lens caps, cables. Always bring one of each type of cable that you can (microUSB, miniUSB, old iPhone/iPad, new iPhone/iPad), because you never know what you might need, or might be able to help someone else out with. You wouldn’t believe the relationships I’ve started with people from giving them a charge from a power bank, or just having a cable they could borrow.

Besides your obvious gear, remember things like hand sanitizer, allergy medication and Halls; you don’t want to have to chase these things down in the middle of the event, and they will keep you healthy in the long run. Again, these are also things you can share with other people if they need it.

When you’re packing up to return from the event, having a list makes it easier to not lose anything. Label things properly. In the root of all SD cards/flash drives throw a notepad file with ownership information like a Twitter handle to contact if found. It might not always work, but on the off-chance it does you’ll likely be thankful it’s there.

Set up Twitter for mobile use

The worst feeling is going to a convention center and realizing there’s no data coverage within the building. However, as long as you can send SMS (text messages), you can tweet — this will also save your ass when you don’t want to pay extra for data packages when roaming to another country, as buying a SIM with unlimited texting is generally pretty cheap.

To set this up, go to your mobile settings on Twitter and add your phone number (there’s a Twitter support thread about it here).

From there, verify it (they’ll send you a text message). Depending on what country you’re in, you’ll be able to send tweets by texting a message to a number. In the US and Canada, it’s 21212, but in other countries it varies (see here). You will have to manually keep in mind the 140 character limit, and type in URLs manually.

From the Mobile settings page, you can also set up SMS notifications on your phone, too; this means you’ll get a text when people follow you, direct message you, retweet your stuff or reply. You obviously don’t want all of this set up if you have a huge following, but things like DMs can really be a lifesaver, even if you have data; you’re going to want those notifications if they’re important.

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Also, if you want to tweet photos to your account, attaching them like you would any MMS will carry over if you’re under the right carrier. For the US, it works on AT&T, Verizon, C Spire, US Cellular and MetroPCS. In Canada, Bell, Telus and Rogers offer this service.

What this means is that you’ll be able to keep your following updated as long as you can get service for texting, which is generally easier than data. Sure, you won’t be able to Snapchat, Instagram or Periscope, but in these situations it’s generally better than nothing.

Prepare for the worst

This is going to be a more free-form section, but the main mindset I have when prepping for an event is figuring out what I’m going to need in the worst-case scenario.

In this vein, it usually is great to have everything you need saved to the cloud like Dropbox or Google Drive before you go anywhere, and from there, syncing what you need to your phone. If you need graphics for your property, you don’t want to be having to waste precious data downloading it, and you don’t want to have to run to a Starbucks or a McDonald’s for free WiFi.

For photographers that are sharing via phone for social, consider investing in an Eye-Fi card to minimize the amount of time you spend on a computer; having this set up (again, beforehand) means you can get photos from your card as soon as you snap them on your phone, instead of pulling out your laptop, importing, exporting, transferring and then posting.

USB extension cables are lifesavers in situations like airports, where outlets might not be free. Investing in a travel router (like this one that I’ve used for a year [affiliate link]) might mean salvaging a media room that only has LAN cables for you to use, or using free hotel wired connections to give you WiFi.

Otherwise, going to an event as media should be fun, but life will still throw everything it can at you. You will forget a charger (and the battery with it!) in the wall at home. You will have to pay overpriced hotel gift shop prices for AA’s. However, the more you go and the more you learn, the more you won’t want to get burned for next time.

Prepare well, wear deodorant, and pursue great work.


Matt Demers has written as his profession for ten years; currently he writes about esports. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Instagram. This post was supported by patrons on Patreon.

By Matt Demers

Matt Demers writes about media, esports, life, and mental health. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram. You can watch him stream on Twitch.