I have done a lot of different tasks in my time volunteering at conventions. But, this is something I had not yet done! When Robin asked me to be a press representative for Coaching for Geeks I was excited, yet extremely nervous! Excited, because I can get into press panels. Nervous, because I will need to ask a question to a guest!
Robin also recruited some other fellow geeks Adam, Jono and Rob to help cover as much as possible throughout the day. (All of which were absolute legends!) I secretly named us the Press Gang. For those who remember that show from the 80’s.
Before the convention, we were all added to a Facebook group chat to get to know each other before we got thrown in working together, and to discuss the things we each wanted to cover at the event. I was given the task of “Press Team Leader”. So, I naturally made a spreadsheet (We all love a spreadsheet) with the panel schedule for the whole weekend. This would help us decide where we needed to be and when. We also needed to make sure we were all free for Robin’s panels.
DAWN OF THE FIRST DAY
We were told to meet in the press room at 8:30. Rob, his clones and I rocked up around 8 (we like to be early). We got a coffee and waited for further instructions and others to turn up.
Adam showed up first, and told us that the press room wasn’t open until 9am. Robin was already scouting the place out as a VIP, and sending us pictures. So, we pitched up camp in the area just outside the Wetherspoon’s. There, Jono found us.
At 9am we rocked up at the press office and participated in the great British art of queuing. The press office doors opened around 9:10 where we met a very smiley happy Robin. He gave us a quick rundown of the equipment he had to hand for us to use (digital recorders, tripod, selfie stick, mobile phone gimbal, and the all important business cards). We all then discussed what we were going to cover. The main things being Silver Sabres and teh Coaching for Geeks panels, we all then went on our merry way to get a feel for the place.
The first thing I did when in the convention hall, was find my feet. I had a walk around the very busy stalls, and tried to find where everything was.
Adam kindly found The Silver Sabres and booked us all in for 12:30, which was perfect as was just after the Guardians press panel and before Robin and Jess’ cosplay panel on the MCM Live Stage at 13:45.
Funkin’ with the Funkos
Wandering around the stalls, I discovered there was something for everyone. As per usual, millions, upon millions of Pop Vinyls. But, much to my disgust, no Hoggle Pop! (The only one I’m missing from my collection and he was nowhere to be found). I was rather pleased about the amount of LGBT content at this convention – I even got provided with a map of all the other LGBT stalls attending the convention. Something I thought was a rather nice touch.
Before I knew it. It was time for the Guardians panel, Robin was messaging me and telling me he’s saved me a seat, the room was filling up fast and there wasn’t a lot of room! I grabbed Rob and we tried to find the press panel room. We went back to the press office and realised it was literally just a part of it at the back… D’OH! Robin also wasn’t kidding when he told us it was a small room. There was enough room for 2 rows of chairs and a table for the guests. I wasn’t expecting it to be THAT intimate!
Whilst Rob and I waited for the guests, we chatted to the other press members. We discovered that the panel rooms aren’t always this cosy and that press panels don’t always happen at other cons.
The panel ended up being delayed until 3pm. Rooker and Gunn were still busy signing autographs. Understandable, as the attendees always come first.
With all the waiting Rob and I were already late for the Silver Sabres Academy. We rushed over to find Robin and Adam already in the swing of things, pun completely intended. Rob’s clones then joined in on the fun. Rob, Jono and I took some pictures and videos.
By this point, I’d realised that I hadn’t eaten, so I went to grab something to sustain me for the rest of the day. Settled on a Cornish pasty. This did absolutely nothing for my low carb lifestyle! But, alas! I didn’t take any of CfG’s convention survival guide advice! (It did taste good though!)
Robin and Jess’s cosplay panel was next. Robin bravely opened the panel with his own version of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” (I’m on a tiger.)
I was very impressed with this panel. I don’t usually attend the smaller panels at conventions. But, this has opened my eyes to a whole world of content, I otherwise would have ignored in favour of the bigger guests. It also gave me great insight into the world of cosplay, and how much time and effort goes into this scene. Great questions and answers from all who were there.
We then attended the rescheduled Sean Gunn/Michael Rooker panel. We had 15 mins of each whilst the other was on the main stage. I’m glad the organisers could make this happen. Though, I didn’t manage to get in with questions quick enough. The other press was right in there. Mental note taken. Make sure you get your questions forward as soon as the guest finishes the last one, otherwise you’ll never get in. But hey, it’s my first time so it’s all a learning curve!
At this point it was nearly the end of the day. All panels had finished, so we had some time to have a mooch around the stalls. I bought a couple of LGBT related items and a brownie for the stepdaughter, and waited in the press office for Rob. Day one was complete.
DAWN OF THE SECOND DAY
On Day 2 I woke up to find this.
I’m not a confident snow driver. So, I made the decision not to drive in it. However, by about 11 it was clearing so I decided to brave the elements. I also decided to bring the stepdaughter with me. Figured that there would be some general admission tickets on the door.
We arrived around 1, this unfortunately meant that we missed the second Coaching for Geeks panel which was all about what it means to be a geek. Robin was joined by Jack Lennard, Director of the Quidditch Premier League and Simon Church, founder of ‘Is the World Stranger or am I?’ (Don’t worry Sarah, the livestreams are being edited by MCM Comic Con and will be available soon! – Robin).
However, we made it just in time for Mark Sheppard! The staff kindly let my stepdaughter sit in with me. She is a huge Supernatural and Doctor Who fan, so she was happy with this.
The Mark interview went well, even though I got told off twice by him! Once, for calling the franchises he’s been in fandoms. As fan is short for fanatic, which he told us is derogatory to him. And then again for asking him what was next for him now that he’s left Supernatural, to which his response was “none of your business!”.
He then went on to tell us that he is rekindling his love for drumming, and touring with his friend. Keep an eye out on his social media if you want to see him in action!
The stepdaughter even plucked up the courage to ask him how it felt to be in a show for so long (Supernatural) Which turns out his 8 years in Supernatural equated to half of her life! Mark also gave a very awesome speech ending in the best quote in the world “The geeks have inherited the earth” I’m hoping this all got recorded on my phone as the speech was epic!
That nearly took us to the end of the day, seeing as there were no other panels, the stepdaughter and I went for a mooch again around the stalls. She spent some money on some more LGBT merch and I picked up a little Aquaman for my desk.
Overall – The new MCM/ReedPOP Experience was an enjoyable one. There was a good mix of stalls, guests, and activities. I didn’t manage to do the escape rooms however I’m going to get a team together for the next event. (CGF Crew callout! We’d nail it in minutes!)
They organised a press room for us to hold all our equipment. They were also very accommodating when it came to Rob and I, having our little people with us. My only disappointment was with myself; I didn’t take full advantage of my press abilities! Lesson learned for next time I suppose…
How does this differ from being an attendee? Being press is like having a skeleton key. It can get you into (almost) anywhere. You can even go up to a guest table and ask them for sound bites for your podcasts, sites ETC. Another press member even asked the Guardians of the Galaxy guys to film a little snippet for his pupils to keep them motivated! I would be one happy pupil if I saw that in class this week…
If any of you geeks out there have any kind of podcast or site I would highly recommend trying to get press for some events; you might be able to raise your profile by asking questions at press conferences, by engaging with other members of the press, or even by having a celebrity endorse your show.
I am so grateful to Robin for giving me the opportunity to do this. I had an absolute blast! Last weekend has given me the confidence to carry on with the press angle, and continue to write articles for Coaching for Geeks.
Sarah Wilson – Queen of Cons
Sarah’s written about Birmingham Horror Con and How to be a Volunteer – they’re not published yet but will turn up in the comments below when they are!