How to get a press pass

  • The truth about press passes
  • The Press Pass
  • How to identify a legitimate press pass ?
  • What are the benefits of a press pass ?


Press passes have been around for decades, helping thousands of journalists do their jobs every day. Presenting a press pass permits unfettered research on topics such as economics or politics and provides access to blocked-off areas at events, trade shows or public institutions.Most journalists would not like to be without this practical document, and the number of press associations .

the possibilities with USPA and IAPP

IAPP and USPA both include journalists from all areas of the modern media world. In addition to conventional print journalists, these organizations include photojournalists, authors, stage directors, publishers, bloggers, film critics and many other professionals who, either as full-time or part-time contributors, help create a comprehensive spectrum of journalistic work. Besides the standard areas of broadcasting .

between legitimate and illegitimate

Renowned organizations such as IAPP (International Association of Press Photographers), UJPA (United Journalist & Photographers Association) or USPA (United States Press Agency) are well known beyond the borders of the United States and are recognized as legitimate providers of press passes by numerous event organizers and businesses.Anyone who is working as a journalist, whether .

fake press passes

Even among press associations, there are some black sheep that issue press passes only for their own commercial gain. Laypersons who are applying for their first press pass often have a hard time differentiating between a legitimate association and a dubious one. Various factors indicate that a provider enjoys international recognition and acceptance, which should help tip the scale in favor of such an association .

a legitimate press pass

Press passes are issued by legitimate press agencies such as USPA or organizations such as IAPP and are well respected by businesses, event organizers and public institutions such as the police.This respect allows you to overcome research hurdles, making your every-day editorial work easier. In the United States, however, there is no uniform appearance for press passes. In addition, there are variations when .

evidence of a journalistic occupation

A press pass is proof of a professional, reputable occupation, which means not just anyone receives such a document. Press passes are recognized by numerous event organizers and businesses as well as official agencies. However, their legitimacy is subject to verification.Even though most businesses and event organizers no longer emphasize particular press agencies or media associations, journalists .

the benefits of a press pass ?

Journalists particularly appreciate the press pass because of its multitude of benefits that facilitate editorial work as well as every-day situations. However, the benefits explained in the following passages should only be exploited in the context of journalistic work. A press pass facilitates journalistic research in all respects, but even more so when businesses are concerned, no matter the sector. As companies .

even more benefits with a press pass

The main advantages of a press pass are easier research and access to areas that are blocked off to the public. In addition, press pass owners may take advantage of other benefits during every-day life. A variety of dealers and service providers offer special concessions for members of the press, particularly in areas of public life that are closely related to journalisticwork. Rental car agencies at home and .

many social benefits

With a press pass, journalists gain much faster access to various social events. From theater premieres to the latest movies to formal receptions, there are numerous possibilities for the benefits of a press pass to come into play, allowing you to be among the first people to report on such special events.This particular aspect of journalistic work is especially interesting to many people with non-traditional backgrounds, who enter .

Further benefits of a press pass

In its primary function, a press pass proves that its owner really is a practicing journalist.Without such a document, both every-day research and accreditation processes for various events would be much more complicated. Presenting a press pass eliminates the need for individual verification of each person’s authorization and qualifications, which makes .

How to recognize a quality press pass

In an effort to impede the production of quality press passes by counterfeiters and illegitimate providers,modern press passes have adopted a more professional format over the years.Special printing methods, a Guilloché pattern and a practical, credit-card-size format made of sturdy plastic are essential authenticating features of a quality press pass. In order to keep journalists .

What are the benefits of a press pass?

Journalists particularly appreciate the press pass because of its multitude of benefits that facilitate editorial work as well as every-day situations. However, the benefits explained in the following passages should only be exploited in the context of journalistic work.

Are you a blogger, photographer, videographer, writer or journalist?
Would you like to know how to obtain press passes for a trade shows, media events, festivals, concerts or workshops, etc.?

Many bloggers, online writers, freelance photographers and news journalists simply don’t know how to get a press pass or press credentials to events such as trade fairs, media events, conventions or concerts. Fortunately, the process of getting a press pass and/or press credentials is fairly easy.

How to get a press pass

Having a press pass can make the difference between being able to photograph or record the event you want to cover and not.

Most of the time you can arrive at the press gate 45 minutes prior to an event, show your credentials and pass through. For smaller or non-ticketed events this may work at times, but for larger events such as trade fairs, concerts, media events, festivals, sports venues and anywhere else with limited access to the public, journalists must apply for a press pass issued by the promoter ahead of time.

For high profile events, the editors of Today’s newspaper, magazine or press agency will write letters of assignment or submit applications on your behalf to help you gain access.

To obtain a press pass you will need to contact the organizers of the event approximately 6-8 weeks in advance and follow their required protocol. The earlier you submit the media request form, the greater your chances of obtaining accreditation (your Press Pass / Press Credentials for the event).

Journalists requesting media credentials must pre-register and collect their badges before entering the Press Office / Registration desk.

You can usually find the contact online. Please visit the event organizers website and locate the contact information for the organizers press relations department. If no press contact information is listed on their website or they do not have a website, please call any number you can find which is associated with the event and ask for the individual handling media relations for the event you want to cover.

Press I.D. / press cards are helpful for identifying yourself to the general public as a member of the press. You can obtain press credentials from press agencies identifying you as an official photographer, videographer, journalist or blogger for that agency.

Freedom of the Press is a right of all free people. The extension of that right to electronic media has been established with the online revolution in the Internet. No longer is that right granted only to print media.

How to get a press passThe fact that you are a freelance writer or photographer need not keep you away from events covered by staff reporters and others affiliated with a recognized news organization or publisher.

The National Writers Union offers press credentials to members who can document their qualifications as working journalists. An NWU press pass, laminated and complete with your photograph, will help you gain access to important events. You can choose between an international ($99) or domestic ($59) press pass. Both are good for two years plus one week from the date of issue. Continuous union membership for the life of the pass is required.

Eligibility criteria and instructions for applying for either type of press card are included with the application form, which you can download from the link below.

Press Pass Criteria

To demonstrate that you qualify for a press pass, your application must be accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • Evidence of three published print or Web site pieces within the past two years
  • Three audio/video pieces or a 15-minute feature broadcast in the same period
  • Proof of publication in a book or anthology by a non-vanity publisher within the past five years.

New IFJ Press Pass Format

As an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the NWU is one of the few organizations in the U.S. able to offer its members the gold standard in international press credentials: the IFJ press card.

After a brief hiatus while we converted to the IFJ’s new wallet-card format, the NWU national office has resumed issuing IFJ press cards to qualified NWU members. Instructions and eligibility criteria are included with the updated application form linked below. If your work as a journalist takes you outside the U.S., the IFJ press card is the best evidence you can provide of your status as a working journalist, especially if you are a freelancer working on spec without an assignment letter or an employer to vouch for you.

The IFJ will no longer issue paper press passes, but has upgraded to a photo ID card. This upgrade by the IFJ office has resulted in a substantial cost increase to NWU and an increase in our workload and an increase in price as well. For those who don’t need the IFJ press pass for use in other countries, the NWU press pass for use within the United States is still available as a lower-cost alternative.

making HR better, one HR pro at a time

How to get a press pass and attend events for free

Just want to say up front that this post is going to appeal more to the bloggers and social media users out there, but I still wanted to share with everyone because it’s neat to see the background of some of my (and other bloggers’) activities. Learning how to get a press pass isn’t difficult, but it takes some effort to position the pitch just right.

When I pitch the idea of covering an event, I think long and hard about the organizer and what they want. The needs of an event planner are fairly simple (I should know).

  • Want people/sponsors to attend
  • Want publicity
  • Want next year to be even better

With those thoughts in mind, I start drafting my pitch. Things I want to cover:

  • Talk about my target audience.
  • Give them some traffic stats.
  • Point to previous event coverage.
  • Give a name or two as referrals to help prove authenticity.
  • Pitch SEO value for future events (when people Google the event, these posts will show up).
  • Tell them exactly what I will provide in exchange for a press pass, comped ticket, etc. (My usual coverage is 3 posts.)
    • Check out this event I am attending and what I expect from the experience
    • Live post during the event or review of a session immediately after
    • Final wrap up, parting words, and recommendation for the next year

One thing I haven’t asked for previously was travel expenses or compensation above the ticket price. As my traffic and audience grows I will get more requests, and I can’t possibly fill all of them. That might be something I’ll have to look at in the future.

A sample email template

I was just checking through my email and saw where a friend had mentioned the XYZ conference. I’ve never even heard of it, so I went out to the website not knowing what to expect.

Wow! I was blown away by the level of detail and professionalism that’s put into this thing. It looks like an amazing event, and I would like to help you guys get the word out about this thing. I have covered other HR events before, and I was wondering if you guys had any kind of press pass. I’m (relatively) local and would love to share the event with my audience. Here are a few details that might help you make up your mind:

  • My audience hits around 3,000 visitors monthly with approximately 70,000 pageviews since I started writing. Alabama is my second highest source of web traffic (for local events only).
  • I covered the 2010 SHRM conference in San Diego this year and those articles and videos were seen by over 1,000 people on my own site and hundreds more on the other platforms where the posts were shared. For many of those readers, it was the only coverage they saw of the entire event. Here’s a sampling of that material from SHRM 2010.
  • I have open invitations to write for other events in the human resources and recruiting space.
  • I’ve written articles about multiple seminars at my local SHRM chapter (NASHRM).
  • I know how important it is for the conference planners to get the word out about the event to generate interest and drive ticket sales.

In exchange for the press pass, I’ll write multiple articles (thinking 3-4 at this point) about the event and will share the content rights with you to post on your own event blog if you desire. It’s reasonable to expect that those articles will reach a large number of people who would otherwise never hear about the event.

Please let me know if I can share anything more to help you in your decision. I’d love to have the opportunity to share the XYZ Conference with the world.

Ben Eubanks
HRevolution cofounder

The next step

If they reply with the affirmative, that’s where I give them more details about my role in the partnership.

Hey, Event Planner Dude/Gal’s name!

At this point I’m planning for at least 3 articles on upstartHR.

  • One will be beforehand where I talk about the event, what makes it unique (example 1, example 2, etc.), and what I hope to learn.
  • The other will be written based on the content of a session or two that I attend. Right now I’m leaning toward writing about the X, Y, and Z sessions, but that could change depending on how they go and how well the speakers do. I hate writing negatively about anything, so I’ll do everything I can to capture the positive aspects of the experience.
  • The final piece will be a recap about the event as a whole, people I met, and whether or not I would recommend someone attend the event in coming years. This is the most fun/valuable, because it really brings a personal feel to the event and helps people get a good handle of the value it can provide.

Like I said in my original email, I expect these posts to be seen by over a thousand people. The content is syndicated across HRMToday, Brazen Careerist, and my Twitter feed (3000+ followers). Another neat benefit for you guys is that the content will be search engine optimized, which means when people are searching for information related to your event a few months or a year from now, the reviews will probably show up high on the search engine results pages.

Thanks again for the opportunity,

And that, my friends, is how I pitch my blog to write for events. As I said before, learning how to get a press pass as a blogger just takes a little effort and attention to detail. I haven’t done it often, but it’s always been successful. Have a question about something I said or forgot to cover? Let me know in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “ How to get a press pass as a blogger ”

This post is EXACTLY what I was looking for, thank you for this great information!!

Ben, thanks for the article. Good advice. I have been successful with this method. I also joined the US Press Association which issues credentials for freelancers. They have written event coordinators on my behalf and I have been quite successful with that as well. Good info, thanks for the post!

it’s been years since I had to pitch myself for an event but this template was great. fingers crossed!

This invite template is great. Thanks for sharing 😀

Fabulous! Thank you!

Thanks for Sharing it is a great template to use

How to get a press pass

In order to gain access to various events as a freelancer, you may need or want to have a press pass proudly displayed around your neck. While these types of credentials are more readily available for people who are employed by larger media organizations, such as national newspapers, it is still possible to get a press or media pass when you’re working freelance.

Contact the Event Organizer

If you are looking for a press pass to cover a specific event, such as a conference or a trade show, it is best to get in touch with the event organizer directly. The event website typically has a page where you can fill out a press or media application, and it is important that you submit this form well in advance of the event itself.

If there is no media application or there are no specific instructions on the associated website, seek out the contact information of the marketing or public relations (PR) professional who is managing the event. Intrepid Freelancer has a step-by-step guide for the typical process.

Go on Assignment

As a freelancer trying to attend an event speculatively before “shopping” the story or photos to a media outlet, it may still be possible to get a press pass. Freelancers who have a serious audience of their own will generally have more success here, as might be the case with popular photographers who shoot for Getty Images, for example, or journalists who have a strong history of writing for major publications on a consistent basis.

However, you will find it is generally easier to gain approval for a pass when you are attending an event on assignment with a media outlet. The outlet can provide you with documentation on their official letterhead to indicate you are working for them in this capacity, which is functionally equivalent to if you were an employee of theirs covering the event. They may help you with the process of getting a press pass or you may need to acquire one yourself.

Apply With the Local Authority

If you are less interested in attending specific events like expos, sporting events, concerts, and fashion shows, and you are more interested in getting behind taped off crime scenes and other areas with restricted access, you may want to inquire into getting official credentials and identification with your local authority.

Each jurisdiction handles press credentials differently and has different requirements. The New York City Police Department (NYPD), for example, ask that NYPD Press Card applicants must have at least one item published or broadcast within the last 24 months, and that the individual has personally covered at least six events on separate days in the past year.

Get an NPPA Photo ID

While the possession of such a card does not guarantee access or admission to events or crime scenes, a photo identification card from the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) does serve as a legitimized form of identification when trying to gain access to such situations. The NPPA asserts there is no such thing as a universal press pass, but having the NPPA photo ID will identify you as “a member in good standing who has agreed to uphold the NPPA Code of Ethics.”

Make Your Own Press Pass

With the understanding that a homemade “press pass” doesn’t actually hold any real credence, it may help in identifying you with security personnel and other access control professionals as a freelancer. This may help with some level of credibility, particularly at events where press passes are not being issued.

Take some time to design your own custom press pass on your computer or hire a professional designer to do it for you. Print it out on high quality card stock and slip it into a lanyard with a card holder. It may be helpful if your DIY press pass has a high quality photo of you on it, as well as some indication of your role and organization. Make sure that the word “PRESS” or “MEDIA” is clearly visible in block letters.

No Guarantees for Access

You may find yourself in a chicken-and-egg scenario when trying to get a press pass as a freelancer. The media application form for the event you’re trying to attend may require that all freelancers be on assignment from an established media outlet. At the same time, you can’t guarantee you’ll have access when you first pitch the story to that media outlet. Keep this in mind and have a contingency plan in place just in case.


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Here in Georgia, USA, several years ago, the Georgia State Patrol used to issue an actual media identification card. You filled out a form verifying your work as a journalist, and had to pay with a company check-sort of a way to verify you had at least some association with the news business.

They sent the form back to you with an approval stamp, and you took it to the local drivers license office where they would make the ID. It said something on the back about the Georgia State Patrol recognizing it, but, in the end, it was still up to the officer whether they wanted you around.

The closest thing we have to a press pass now is a Georgia Press Association media identification. They send employees at member organizations one every year. No photo, but it is an actual solid plastic card, not just laminated paper, so it usually works.

A lot of people have a mis-impression that a “press pass” will get you into all kinds of things, which really isn’t the case. Virtually all events issue their own press passes or credentials, either to an organization that then sends the assignend photographer and/or reporter, or to an individual journalist.

Usually, if it’s an individual journalist, you’ll have to prove you’re part of the working press, usually by providing them with a letter from an editor you’re on assignment for or providing samples of other work you’ve done. Often, you’ll end up having a working relationship with some of these folks, which will make it easier.

Usually, events come with rules too, such as only staying for the first three songs, or shooting from a designated area. One area that has some differences is whether you’re working press or for a photgraphy company. Generally, the working press will never accept a photo agreement that limits what they can do with the photo. If you’re working for a photo company, they may have agreed to certain rights limits as a condition of access. If you’re doing it on your own, beware of “rights grabs” in photo agreements, that gives the promoters of the event the rights to your photos.

When it comes to accident/fire scenes, etc, a press pass really doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot in many areas. Basically rule number one is that they can never, ever, give a member of the working press less access than the general public. They can never run you off if everyone else is allowed to stay. I once had a trooper run me off of an accident scene because, “you’re the only one with a da#$%d camera in your hand.” Almost went to jail but I let him run me off, and just photogaphed the one piece of crime scene tape he put up to separate me from the bystanders (one even in a bathrobe). Next day, his post commander explained the rules to him, and I haven’t had a problem since.

Sometimes, officers will use a press pass as a guide to let you into areas that otherwise may be cordoned off, or roadblocked. This depends, in many areas, on the officer. I’ve had just as much good luck with a business card as an actual press pass.

Whatever you do, don’t be fooled into paying for one that will supposedly give you unlimited access to stuff-it won’t. You’d do just as well to just do as another poster mentioned and photoshop one up.

Jim Dean

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The Office of Press Operations responds to queries and interview requests from journalists related to U.S. foreign policy, and coordinates press briefings and media events.

Hours of Operation

8:15 am – 7:00 pm Monday through Friday

During regular business hours, journalists may contact the Office of Press Operations at (202) 647-2492 or email [email protected]

After regular business hours, journalists can reach a Press Duty Officer Monday through Friday until 9:00 pm and Saturday, Sunday, and holidays from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm. The Press Duty Officer can be reached by email at [email protected]

Interview Requests for State Department Officials

Send an email to [email protected] with the subject and deadline.

Access to Media Events

Accredited journalists and technicians are welcome to attend open press events in the Department.

Along with an official government photo identification (i.e., U.S. driver’s license or passport), they will need to present one of the following as identification:

  1. A U.S. Government-issued photo media credential (e.g., White House, Department of Defense, Foreign Press Center, Congress), or
  2. An official photo identification card issued by their news organization, or
  3. A letter from their employer on official letterhead verifying their current employment as a journalist.

Non-hard pass holders wishing to attend the Department Press Briefing or cover an open press event may enter/exit through the 23rd Street lobby on regular work days, Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. They will be cleared through security at the 23rd Street lobby and issued a day pass by a uniformed Protective Service Officer, valid for that day only. Day pass holders have unescorted access to the second floor – the Office of Press Relations (2109), the Press Briefing Room (2209), the Correspondents’ Room (2310) and the Mezzanine balcony (east and west sides). If an event is to be held elsewhere in the building, all press will be escorted by Department employees. The badge must be turned in upon departure.

The 23rd Street lobby is the primary pick-up point for escort to events. Outside the 8:00 am – 4:00 pm hours, the pick-up point is typically the C Street lobby. Day pass holders do not have access via C Street, unless with pre-arranged escort by a Department employee for an interview or event. All camera set-up times and pick-up times will be posted in the Daily Public Schedule online.

The Office of Press Operations may recommend that Diplomatic Security issue a long-term “hard” building pass to journalists and media technicians who demonstrate a frequent (three times per week) need to be in the State Department. Application forms are available from the Press Office, Room 2109, Harry S. Truman Building. Applicants must return completed forms to the Press Office in person, along with a letter from his/her employer and proof of citizenship. Reporters from non-U.S.-based media organizations must bring a letter from the embassy of the country in which the organization is based attesting to the bona fides of the media organization. Issuance of the pass is contingent upon a background check by the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Press hard pass holders do not have escort privileges.

Ground Rules for Interviewing State Department Officials

Ground rules must be agreed upon at the beginning of a conversation or an interview with State Department officials. The discussion should proceed only after you and the officials are clear on exactly how the information can be used or attributed.

On the Record
Information may be quoted directly and attributed to the official by name and title.

On Background
The official’s remarks may be quoted directly or paraphrased and are attributed to a “State Department official” or “Administration official,” as determined by the official.

On Deep Background
The official cannot be quoted or identified in any manner, not even as “an unnamed source.” The information is usually couched in such phrases as “it is understood that” or “it has been learned.” The information may be used in the reporting to help present or gain a better understanding of the subject, but the knowledge is that of the reporter not the source.

Off the Record
Nothing of what the journalist is told may be used in the story. The information is meant only for the education of the reporter.