Five tips from the red carpet for entertainment reporting
Star-studded red carpet arrivals of high-profile entertainment events often see heated competition among journalists.
Maggie Ma, a Los Angeles-based journalist, shares her tips for getting the story in the midst of all that glamor and glitz.
Ma is the entertainment reporter of the Hollywood Page for the World Journal, a popular Chinese daily newspaper in North America. She regularly covers events including the Golden Globe Awards, the Grammy Awards and will be on hand for the sixth time at the upcoming Academy Awards.
Calling her job "very tough, yet very rewarding,” she shared these tips with IJNet.
Bring a laundry list "Always be prepared! It is extremely critical to do your homework well before game day. Then, bring a list that includes the names and relevant information of all the potential interviewees you might encounter.
For the Oscars, I watch all the nominated films of the major categories, remember what the nominees look like, what other work they have done, who they have worked with and what those people’s backgrounds are. I also research all the award presenters in the same way. In the end, I pull all this information into a “laundry list” indexed by name and bring the list with me both in my pocket and in my head."
Awake the hunter in you "Be as alert, proactive and aggressive as you can on the red carpet, however shy you might claim yourself to be. You don’t always get the best spot and you hardly know when and where a target will appear. Therefore, you have to identify and occupy a vantage point early on and sharply observe new arrivals with your “weapons,” i.e. tools and knowledge you need for interviews. As soon as a target shows up under your radar, be the first one to “attack” with shout-outs which usually include their first names. Remember, you are competing with numerous other journalists on the spot.
As for the vantage point, reporters at the beginning or the end of the red carpet usually have a better chance to attract attention. Guests tend to stay and mingle at those two places longer."
Improvise like a pro "In unexpected situations, which arise a lot on the red carpet, a good entertainment reporter knows how to perform prepared improvisation...For example, when Justin Bieber came unannounced to the Rango premiere just to say “Hi” to Johnny Depp, I decided to shift my focus a bit and follow Bieber. The story turned out better than originally planned."
Schmooze all around "It's always key to make yourself seen and known on the red carpet. Here, your “schmoozing” skills can really make a difference. For instance, I introduce myself to PR managers when I meet them in person and engage them by sharing my published work on a ongoing basis. In the end, they're the ones who bring the stars over to you.
Don’t forget to friend your fellow reporters! Sometimes, it may surprise you how much reliable information you can get from one another in a fast-paced situation such as red carpet arrivals."
Wear comfy shoes! "Make sure you wear shoes you can keep standing, walking and running in freely for at least a few hours. Please, no high heels. They broke on me once. If you have to wear them, prepare a spare pair of flats."
Are you an entertainment reporter, too? Which tips provided above may — or may not work — in your country?