If you read last week’s blog post titled, “The Future of Post-Pandemic Beauty Events, According to Publicists,” you probably already know how excited many publicists and brands are to get back to post-COVID events, while I’m over here having major post-pandemic anxiety about it all. I’ve started to receive a couple of in-person press event invitations, and while I’m thrilled to be back in NYC and see old colleagues and publicists, I’m also hesitant to say “yes” to every event—and it’s not just because I’m fearful of catching or spreading the virus.
After interviewing multiple beauty editor friends and colleagues, I’ve learned that I am definitely not the only one less-than-thrilled to return to our pre-COVID life of minimal personal time and maximal work overload. The editors and freelancers I interviewed (all quoted anonymously) had a lot to say (and a lot of pushback) about attending post-COVID events again, and considering publicists (and their brands) seem to be wanting to go back to “normal times,” I’m beginning to sense a conflict ensuing.
Below, you’ll learn which in-person events editors are excited to return to, which types of virtual events they want to see more of in the post-pandemic world, what their thoughts are on press trips, and so much more. And thank you to all of the editors and freelancers who shared their input with me for this story!
Side note: My boyfriend made a good point this morning as I was explaining to him what this blog post was about. He said that I didn’t interview any newbie beauty editors, and that I probably should have. Typically, new beauty editors are more excited to attend all the press events, because it’s all so new to them and the glitz and glamour is very fun and thrilling (I was the same way back then). Additionally, press events are a great way for new editors to meet each other, so they probably enjoy that aspect as well. As you read this, please keep in mind that I, unfortunately, did not interview any new beauty editors, mainly because I don’t know any! To add to that, I didn’t interview any beauty editors who are mothers—I think they would have added interesting insight to this topic as well.
Thank you for reading!
Are you excited to go back to in-person events?
“I am genuinely excited to see friends and colleagues in person, but I’m not excited to return to the constant hustle. Prior to the pandemic, I was experiencing serious burnout and I know I’m not alone. There were simply too many events and it was overwhelming and exhausting. There were many times that I had so many events that I would end up working on weekends, since it was the only time I could get any writing done. Going forward, there needs to be more of a balance.”
“Yes and no. I miss seeing everyone, but I also can’t imagine dealing with the pre-pandemic volume of events on top of the workload I’ve had the past year.”
“No. I cannot believe how quickly things are picking back up — and I’m inclined (unfortunately) to hope things slow down with breakthrough cases + the Delta variant.
I’m not saying I like this, but my schedule/deadlines have changed, and I cannot do things mid-day with the freedom I used to. I think, regardless of freelance, magazine, website, etc. many people I’ve spoken with say the same. We don’t know how we got our work done before. While I’d obviously love to get a 1:30 PM manicure on the opposite side of the city from my house (real example), I can’t spend the time on the subway — and there was no Uber code for this event. If a brand wants to have an IRL event, they need to be prepared to budget for Uber codes that are inclusive and realistic for people who live in Brooklyn or uptown Manhattan or Queens — not just the very few of us who live in a “central” “event” neighborhood. This is not only for safety but because often events are at hours I don’t have much time to lose — in an Uber, at least I can keep working. An event should be available to anyone who is invited — not just people who have a bigger budget.”
“Yes and no. On one hand, I cannot wait for IRL post-COVID events to start happening. I’m an extrovert and have genuinely missed seeing industry friends and colleagues so much. On the other hand, I’ve also really enjoyed virtual events and how much easier and efficient they make my day-to-day work life.”
“The idea of going back to the intensity of the ‘old way’ is incomprehensible for many reasons. Like many people, I changed the course of my career during the pandemic (from full-time to consulting/freelancing) and, like many more, I am no longer living in NYC full-time. As an in-house editor pre-COVID, I loved my life but was genuinely fatigued by the number of events that I was attending and felt so guilty RSVP’ing ‘no’ to things. Though I tried to limit myself to a four-event maximum per week to give myself a break, I felt like I was being unsupportive of our PR colleagues. I felt horrible choosing between staying informed/networking and spending time with my partner and making dinner, rather than getting home late and eating something fast before rolling into bed so I could do it all again the next day. Virtual events have been wonderful because I no longer have to make that choice.”
“I am genuinely excited to go back to in-person events—that’s a part of my job I’ve really missed over the last year and I’m definitely fatigued with all of the Zoom events. That said, I really don’t plan to go back to the full-tilt, absolutely packed schedule I used to do. I’ve really realized how exhausting it was to overcommit myself like that, and I hope brands will have more empathy for us as we try to prioritize our time and create some semblance of work/life balance. I’m part of a very small team, so a lot of my time is accounted for, and going to so many events pre-and post-work hours essentially doubled my working hours back in the ‘before’ times. I still value my relationships with brands and appreciate all of the hard work, resources, and generosity that goes into making events fun experiences, but I also am making it a personal mission to give myself permission to say “no” so that I can prioritize my mental health, time to work out, time with friends and family, etc.”
Now that we’ve been doing virtual events for 1.5 years, what types of in-person events are you hoping to see more of/attend?
“I am excited to attend events that can’t be recreated over Zoom, whether that’s an interesting experience or a great meal.”
“Definitely not cocktail parties, or any “just because” sort-of post-COVID events that aren’t tied to launches or other big news. I think small group sessions with an open dialogue are where it’s at—big presentations feel impersonal.”
“I’d like IRL events to be reserved for big launches, not smaller news such as shade expansions. I think the pandemic has made so many people realize how valuable our time is, and since getting to/from events takes time, I’m hoping brands become more selective for when they’re throwing IRL events and offer options for virtual events for more flexibility. As for the type of event, for this summer I think the best move would be to do events outside or in places with lots of windows and circulation. There are still people who aren’t vaccinated or are immunosuppressed, so for everybody’s health and safety, let’s minimize risk.”
“Things that genuinely cannot be replicated on Zoom — aka that’s typically something experiential. No need for cocktail parties, store events…”
“Ones with real data and insight, events that really educate so that we, as writers, can educate our audiences. The consumer is more informed than ever, and I want to hear from credible experts with a real understanding of the science, technology, and strategy behind formulas and launches so I can help them learn something new. That’s not to say that I don’t want to socialize—I definitely do, we all have such incredible colleagues—but we can balance drinks and data, surely. Plus, I have to be honest, but I doubt I’m revealing any secrets here: We all love an event with a beauty service. I personally am more likely to recommend something if I’ve tried it and had an amazing experience, which is facilitated by an experiential event.”
“I hope to see in-person events that are 1) actually worthwhile (a.k.a. actually necessary to be in-person/have some kind of added benefit besides just a product rundown), 2) start on time (and respect our very busy schedules), 3) account for commutes and provide transportation and 4) offer a meal, treatment, workout class, something we would probably need/want in our day anyway. I can’t wait to get back to in-person yoga classes, meditations, facials and so on—but can honestly live without those open houses/previews that are essentially someone from the brand reading off a press release. I also hope to keep desksides to a minimum—it’s soooo rare that I experience one that couldn’t have just been an email.”
What types of virtual events are you hoping to do more of, if any at all?
“I think that simple desksides and product launches should remain on Zoom. Before the pandemic, I would often spend more time on the subway or in an Uber getting to and from an event than the time I spent at the event. That’s simply not sustainable for a number of reasons, and since we’ve seen that quick launches and desksides can easily be done over Zoom, I don’t think that needs to go back to an in-person event.”
“Teams have started to really master the 15- to 30-minute pitch, which I love. It’s awesome to be able to take a break from a project, hop on a Zoom to hear the latest and greatest, then dive back into work after the call. I also do enjoy ‘team bonding’ type events, with hands-on experiences (cooking, cocktails, fitness, etc.) that gives us the vibe of the fun in-person events from pre-COVID, but eliminates the need for the time-suck of travel.”
“I don’t mind virtual! it’s honestly broken barriers for meeting people in farther places, etc. If there’s an exciting launch, I’m happy to hear about it – these could definitely be more often 20 minutes than 30, and for meetings/interviews, I’m happy to do a 1:1 Zoom!”
Would you rather go to more virtual events or in-person events? Are you hoping that more brands give the option of attending a virtual event/deskside or an in-person event?
“I’d love it if most events had an option for virtual events. We’ve all become busier during the pandemic and I believe workload has increased for so many of us, so giving people the choice to either go to an IRL event or tune into a virtual event would allow more people to learn about brands/products/experts. I like quick, to-the-point, presentations. Time is of the essence!
If I could go to all the IRL events and still be able to do my job, I totally would, but since the workload has piled on, I know I’ll need to be way more selective. For IRL events though, providing transportation (and, ideally, over the $25 Uber credit) is a must. Lots of people are still really nervous about public transportation. I, for example, bike everywhere and I have friends who haven’t been on the subway since early 2020, so if an event is far away, it could make arriving a little tricky.”
“I do hope the future holds a combination of virtual and in-person events. I think it’ll save brands time and resources, too—I’m sure deskside days are incredibly draining!”
“Events should be meaningful and enjoyable for everyone, publicists and editors alike. I couldn’t possibly imagine having to manage all the event planning (and the constant event schedule pre-COVID) that publicists have had to balance. If bigger events were reserved for really special, blockbuster, revolutionary launches and brand debuts while desksides were used for smaller launches and updates, it would take a lot of the stress out of the process for all of us. We all work so hard as it is, and beauty is supposed to be fun, right?”
“I am down for a mix! I think going forward, desksides (or any shorter brand presentations) held virtually will be super helpful to allow me to attend more of them. But again, in-person events need to really have a reason beyond them.
Allowing the option is really the ideal way to handle it, as far as I’m concerned. Not only does this show a certain respect for our time and prevent us from having to spend so much time commuting to/from events, but it also means people who are based out of town can have a chance to be included. The only thing I would also say is that please, please, please give us the option to stay muted/off camera—we are so busy and it’s literally impossible to get our work done without multitasking, but we’re excellent multi-taskers! So we can totally pay attention to what you’re saying while also maybe keeping our inboxes from getting out of control or doing photo research or whatever. Especially if we’re working from home in close quarters with family/significant others/roommates or if we’re going to be back in the office taking virtual events and desksides from what is likely an open-plan office space, this shows respect and makes it actually possible to attend these.”
“Giving people the option will allow for more people to learn about products/brands/experts/initiatives. We’ve all become so busy that giving us the option relieves a lot of stress.”
“Yes! Again — events should be available to anyone on a guest list — Zoom affords brands an option to be more inclusive, invite more people — from my vantage point, doesn’t seem like there’s much to lose?”
What are your thoughts on press trips? Will you be going on more or less in the post-pandemic world?
“Personally, I will be considering press trips on a case-by-case basis. I know things are opening up, but I hope brands will still take the necessary safety precautions.”
“To be honest, I was a little surprised to hear some are already happening! I haven’t done any personal travel just yet. As eager as I am to get back out into the world, it feels just a tiny bit premature to me.”
“I cannot wait to go on press trips. For now, the safest bet is to stay within the US since so many countries are still suffering with COVID-19. As much as I love an international trip, I believe it’s safer to wait. If it’s a national trip though, sign me up! I miss adventure and travel.”
“I would attend some press trips; I especially appreciate those that are planned around big launches with a lot of information to disseminate. Having several days to soak up that much intel is nice, and of course, I love seeing and catching up with friends.”
“Hell yes, sign me up!!!! I have missed traveling so much, and press trips are one of the main perks of my job that I’ve really been missing out on for the last year or so. I think just domestic would be ideal for the time being until it’s truly considered safe/recommended to travel abroad, and I would hope that there would be a requirement for everyone on the trip to be vaccinated.”
“Less — again, time, deadlines. Often press trips end up being massive time sucks, the travel alone is a big loss.”