Even if you don’t specialise in covering politics, attending a party conference as press could be a useful experience, providing you with stories and leads you can call on again in the future. Those leads could extend well beyond politics too – the press and communications staff from charities, campaign groups and professional bodies attend party conferences and one of their goals is to build relationships with the media. In a couple of days you could significantly build your long term contacts book, as well as find stories in the short term.
The criteria and processes for gaining press accreditation for any event or exhibition can be frustrating. At political conferences, security and pressure on space mean even more hoops to jump through before you’re guaranteed entry.
We combed through the registration processes to save you the
time, and then contacted each party to ask if they had any extra messages for
journalists – only two of them have responded so far, so be prepared for a wait
if you do need to ask questions about your own registration.
In date order:
14 – 17 September
2019, Bournemouth – Liberal Democrats
Bournemouth International Centre and Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott
details: “Leading press” are listed under the “Who should attend” list on
the front page of the registration site. Media tickets are free until 12 July, then
£475 for the full week, includes VAT & entitles visitors to “full general
access within the conference venue and secure zone”. They also state: “Media
applications are subject to approval by the Lib Dem Press Office. The Liberal
Democrats reserve the right to cancel any registrations. The applicant will be
informed in writing and any applicable registration charges refunded in full.”
You’ll need to create a username when you register, and keep a note of it for
future years as “duplicate accounts will cause significant delays to your
registration”. You’ll also need to submit a passport-standard photograph for
your conference pass.
21 – 25 September
2019, Brighton – Labour
Brighton Centre and the Hilton Brighton Metropole
Media registration details: Deadline for media passes is stated as 28 June 2019 but the application page seemed to still be accepting registrations this week. You’ll need a passport standard photograph and at least one of NUJ Number / FPA Number / Lobby Number to apply. You can only have one browser tab open at a time when you start your application. There are three different types of media pass at £75 each, which includes a £5 carbon offsetting charge.
Additional info: The conference team say: “Regarding special arrangements, there is a Press Office at the conference where journalists and accredited media attendees can liaise with the Labour Party Press Office Staff to assist with any press. There is a general writing area that is accessible before and after main hall hours, times for 2019 are TBC but likely from around 6am to 10pm.”
29 September – 2
October, Manchester – Conservatives
Central Convention Complex and The Midland Hotel
Media registration details: You’ll need your passport number, driving licence number and a passport standard photo. For a media pass you “must be employed by a print, broadcasting or web based news organisation.” Media registration is complimentary until 2 July, but no price is shown until 3rd stage registration from 6 August when it starts at £700, rising to £875 for late registration on site.
details: Passes have to be collected from the Press Desk on site from 8am
on the first day of the conference – you’ll need ID and a press card, ideally
NUJ although the conference team told us “Exceptions may be made where the
reason for interest and a body of work can be demonstrated.” Once registered
you’ll receive programme highlights and details of briefings from the press
team. There’s no deadline but we were told they “appreciate notice so that we
can meet everyone’s needs”. Regarding arrangements for the media: “Please get
in touch to schedule interviews with leaders or other elected representatives.
Please get in touch if you want to bring a large vehicle. Entry to the venue
from 8am usually (special arrangements may be possible).”
details: After 16 September there’s a Late Media Accreditation charge of
£100 per pass. During the registration process you must provide your job title,
company/organisation name, and specify if you need desk space.
What else you should know:
With one new Prime Minister (so far…), 16 new ministers (see Vuelio’s handy Cabinet infographic), another looming Brexit deadline and mutterings about a General Election, this year’s Party Conferences are likely to be busier than ever. Simple planning like familiarising yourself with the layout of venues – fringe events and exhibitions may not be in the same place as the main conference hall – and remembering your portable phone charger (we’ve been told plug sockets usually don’t cater for the number of attendees) can save hours. Keep on top of things by following beyond the biggest names like @bbclaurak and @Peston – political journalists like @GuardianHeather, @tnewtondunn, @PickardJE and @BBCsarahsmith provide different points of view, and you can also get daily updates from our political team @Vuelio_Politics
If you’re a Conference veteran and would like to share some tips of your own we’d love to hear them (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you need to source interviews or information for your conference season coverage, the Journalist Enquiry Service can save you time and connect you with thousands of experts, businesses, political and public affairs organisations who can help: https://responsesource.com/send