This is a direct follow-up to yesterday's article, Why I Won't Be at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2013. The initial post got some VERY passionate responses. This is the tale of what happened after Wizard World noticed.
"You would be not only respected and feared, you would be loved." - Jorah Mormont, Game of Thrones
This quote was stuck in my head yesterday as I sorted through all of my readers' feedback. I felt like Daenerys Targaryen, if she were to replace her dragons with a super-rad blog. Or geeky, outspoken readers. Or... a laptop?
Almost 2,000 people read Geek Girl Chicago's Chicago Comic Con rejection story. Many shared stories of their own. I heard from radio personalities, podcasters, other writers, other conventions (Hello, Chicago TARDIS!), even a man whose daughter was disappointed that she wouldn't be meeting "Rose Tyler" at the event. Wow. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. Here's what happened next:
Jeff Cherkassky, Wizard World's Digital Media Manager, responded in the article's comments section. He was professional and positive. Almost simultaneously, though, I received a strange phone call. "John from Wizard World" (no official title) left only his first name, number, and a brisk "Call me" on my cell phone. Wha-!! The lack of details made me feel shaken. I was also busy at my day job. I never found out what John wanted or who he was.
Jeff resolved things. He pointed me toward Chicago Comic Con's "press affiliate" search. It's pretty cool! Through this program, qualifying press outlets work directly with the convention's social media team. Successful applicants get a 4-day pass and do significant work for the con. Leading up to the show, press affiliates write articles and plugs to "excite" audiences. At the convention, affiliates take photos and turn them in at WW's Social Media Center for official use.
I was told I'd be guaranteed a spot. It was an invitation. I thought about it. I thought about it HARD. I settled on "No, thank you" for 3 reasons:
1. I did not want to exclude or make decisions for my photographer. She is a close friend and trusted partner, and often takes the majority of the photos.
2. I'd admittedly have a rough time "playing nice." Wizard World rejected GGC initially, and would have stood by it. I was only deemed worthy once it was clear how loud my voice and readers are. I'd probably be all entitled and insufferable the whole weekend.
3. I just wanted an apology, not a Press Pass. Wizard World has yet to admit that any of my experiences were poorly handled or even true. Last year, I was given misinformation and scolded to my face. This year, a staff member found my personal Facebook and used it to justify press mistreatment. I also had to specifically ask for Geek Girl Chicago to be removed from Wizard World's website post-rejection. When my blog relayed these factual events, I was told by Jeff that Wizard World doesn't "feel as if [their] team was depicted properly in the article."
To be fair, Jeff tried his best to make things right. He responded quickly, used kind words, and offered the deal he thought I wanted. He was a good business person. As I told him in my e-mails, I'm sure disorganization and even rudeness are to be expected in such a large staff. We're all human. I just wish Wizard World would work on improving their workers' guest-facing skills instead of defending them.
I appreciate Wizard World offering me the press affiliate opportunity, and encourage other rejected press outlets to look into it. It could be nice exposure! At the very least, it gets a 4-day badge.
Thanks again, readers. You've made me feel like the Khaleesi of ChicagoNow.
TOMORROW: What's going on in Chicago this GEEKend??
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