Pepcom: Size Doesn’t Matter, Open For All Working Journalists

Typically during coverage of a major trade show or event, if you’re reading Thedroidguy than you hear about Pepcom. Whether it’s in stories, or mentioned in videos, Pepcom events are regularly attended by Thedroidguy and thousands of other accredited, and working technology journalists.

Pepcom events or “Digital Experience”, events are demo events for working journalists where they can see multiple companies in one room, in one evening. These events, give journalists and exhibitors unprecedented access to one another. Companies that range from Samsung, HTC, Motorola to 3M, Slacker Radio and more, are regular featured companies at Pepcom.

As with any event, these companies spend money to get into these demo events. The exhibitors are paying for access to the thousands of journalists that show up for Pepcom events, out of the over 10,000 journalists in the Florida based companies database.

More after the break
On Friday, Pepcom was accued of being elitist, and spammers. Our experience over the past three years, has been just the opposite. At any given Pepcom event you can see journalists that range from Tank Girl, and Zach Honig from Engadget, to Josh Topolsky, from the Verge, to Walt Mossberg from All Things Digital, to the other end of the spectrum like Korey from the newer site Brief Mobile. Lazy Tech Guys who are still building scale were even invited.

In fact 1,530 journalists were checked in to the Pepcom event at CES in January in Las Vegas. Last time we checked there were way less than 1500 “elite journalists”.

Pepcom was founded by 2 retired working journalists who worked for a wide range of publications. Co-Founder Chris O’Malley said that he worked anywhere from small technology journals to Time Magazine. John Pepper, the other co-founder worked for a wide range of publications as well. When asked how Pepcom got started O’Malley said:

Jon Pepper and I were working journalists for tech and business magazines,
and we saw the need for demo events that brought together companies large
and small.  At the time, most such events were limited to startups or one pr
agency’s clients.  Our first event was in 1998, and we grew from there.

As former journalists themselves they recognize how important access can be. That’s why Pepcom doesn’t have a very hard vetting process. Basically they ask that you are a working journalist and for one of their ten events every year (the CES event) they ask, and actually require, journalists to pre-register:

Basically, we do our best to determine if someone is a working journalist
covering technology in some way.  We do have to update those credentials
from time to time, but once you’re invited, the process is typically a
matter of saying “yes” to an invitation and then showing up with your
business card. O’Malley told Thedroidguy.

O’Malley continued:

We invite journalists regardless of medium or scale.  Again, our criteria is
that an individual be a working journalist covering technology.  We have no
criteria regarding a media outlet’s reach or prominence.  None.  We believe
in the value of both mass media and targeted media, and that the true value
of any media outlet is how well it serves its audience, whatever the
audience size.

Samsung Replenish Video Shot at Pepcom’s Green Event in NY

While some may find a showcase strange or weird, they happen all the time in all industries. Pepcom isn’t the only company that does demo events like this, especially as a side attraction to a major trade show.

CES produces their own preview event called CES unveiled. The premise is the same, thousands of journalists 100 or so vendors showing off their wares for free food and booze. And again, a lot of content comes out of these events.

In fact, so much content comes out of events like this that Engadget’s Zach Honig was instrumental in getting more extremely fast ethernet lines put in for journalists at future PepCom events.

The other big showcase event is Show Stoppers. These events, put on by the Leon family, also feature free food, and a lot of exhibitors where journalists get a chance to meet face to face with PR folks and hear about their new stuff. Show Stoppers actually sets up live video areas for various video journalists, complete with full lighted back drops. We’ve even seen Seth Green and T-Pain at Show Stoppers events.

Paul Carr over at PandoDaily has suggested that the vetting process is silly and that Pepcom will just Spam journalists.  If you’re a new blogger or just a colleague that reads thedroidguy and you’ve never attended a PepCom event than you need to know a few things.

– PepCom has 10 events a year, a complete list is at the end of this story

– The vetting process is simple, if you’re a technology journalist at any level and have written anything tech in the past few months, and have a business card, you’re in.

– As a PepCom event approaches, they contact press 5-6 weeks out (1 email) if you respond “Yes” you are attending you’re removed from any more mailing until the week of when they send out a preview email talking about which vendors are showing off what products. Now if you’re a regular PepCom attendee you will receive 3 emails until you say yes and they are evenly spread out. You never receive a post email and your email address is only given to vendors if you give it to them.

Conversely every Pepcom attendee gets a flash drive with the complete media kit for each vendor inside the flash drive. Vendors DO NOT receive email addresses from PepCom. In the course of 365 days you could receive a total of 30 emails from Pepcom, 3 per event. That’s a lot less than Andy Marken or Karen Thomas the week before CES.

– Pepcom allows on site registration for every event except their event at CES. They let their entire database know this when they sent the initial email for Pepcom’s CES event along with your confirmation email and the vendor centric email.

Access to hundreds of companies who sometimes give away review units on site, free beer and wine and free food, my business card and 3 emails per event seems like more than a fair trade. Not to mention the content that comes hand in hand with attending a PepCom event. While it may seem cool to jump on a Pepcom bashing bandwagon, I’m willing to bet the same group of journalists from top tier sites to fred in the shed blogs, will all be in attendance at Pepcom’s upcoming events at MWC, CTIA and back in New York.

If you’re a working tech journalist and have a by-line and  a business card and haven’t been to Pepcom here are their upcoming events, definitely worth checking out:

MobileFocus Global @ Barcelona
Mon, February 27, 2012 (at Mobile World Congress)

EcoFocus @ New York
Thurs, April 19, 2012 (Green event)

MobileFocus @ New Orleans
Tues, May 8, 2012 (at CTIA Wireless Spring)

eFocus @ Los Angeles
Mon, June 4, 2012 (at E3)

Digital Experience! @ New York
Thurs, June 21, 2012

DigitalFocus @ Berlin
Friday, August 31, 2012 (IFA)

Holiday Spectacular! @ New York
Thurs, September 20, 2012 (Holiday Preview Event)

MobileFocus @ San Diego
Wed, October 10, 2012 (at CTIA Wireless Fall)

Wine, Dine & Demo! @ New York
Thurs, November 15, 2012

Digital Experience! @ Las Vegas
Mon, January 7, 2013 (at CES)