I’ve been in Detroit this week for the media days portion of the North American International Auto Show. In addition to actual client work, it’s a great chance to reconnect with automotive industry colleagues as well as the business, consumer and lifestyle reporters who love cars and trucks. Unlike trade shows, no one’s here to sell anything other than coverage and content. Getting shoppers psyched about the current and future crop of automobiles starts when doors open to the public.
For most of us who’ve been on the auto show circuit for a few years, there’s enough material to write a big book about the good, the bad and the very ugly. For now, here are a few pointers for anyone attending or hosting press events at a trade or consumer show. Be a pro – do it right.
Right: General Motors put the first numbered edition of the media launch event press kit for its new-generation Corvette Stingray on eBay, with all proceeds going to charity. Great idea, GM!
Wrong: Certain alleged members of the press who received an invitation to the media launch event promptly put their press kits up on ebay.
This has been going on ever since automakers started creatively packaging press materials. Tacky, with a capital T. Press kits are not a profit center.
Right: There were no reported fisticuffs or injuries sustained while rushing a press kit counter during the show, so perhaps civility is on the rise. That would truly be a capital letter RIGHT.
Wrong. We suggest revoking media credentials to all attendees observed stripping the very cool, albeit heavy metal Jeep press kit box (a field “emergency” kit including the ever-invaluable hand sanitizer) of its press material content, just to get their hands on the freebies. It’s undoubtedly the same list of professionals who stuff their pockets and tote bags with biscotti and other treats supplied by exhibitors.
Right: Espresso bars and recharging stations are proliferating at the manufacturer stands. Kudos to exhibit managers for recognizing the two most important requirements for helping media manage 10 hours of back-to-back press conferences: caffeine and fully-charged devices.
Wrong: Watching a hospitality area guest openly and loudly berate a PR person because they’d run out of a certain lunch item. Note to the rude guest: no one is required to provide the costly, often multi-course meals served during media days. Have you priced convention food services lately? Be happy – or go buy a hot dog at a concession stand.
Right: To warm up for consumer days, exhibits are often staffed by a mix of knowledgeable, polished and helpful product specialists of both genders. We’ve worked with the agencies that manage these teams, and they undergo rigorous training and most know all the vehicle specs. They deserve courtesy.
Wrong: Exhibitors that insist on equipping their all-female product specialist teams in 6-inch heels and plunging necklines. Note to car manufacturers: don’t sagely nod at female car buyer statistics and give lip service to diversity. Put it into action and start by taking a look at who’s representing your product in your stand.
What’s your favorite media days right and wrong?
In the wake of the unimaginable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, on-camera reporters understandably had trouble hiding their emotions when reporting from the scene. How anyone—regardless of profession—could not have been impacted is certainly a rhetorical question. Despite what many in the viewing world may sarcastically feel, reporters are living, breathing and feeling human beings. Many are also mothers and fathers. Their job, to interview fellow parents who’ve just experienced the ultimate, incomprehensible loss, certainly tested the composure and decorum of those reporting from the scene.
Unfortunately, the days following the massacre also led to repeated and unwelcomed interjection of opinion, once the investigation’s specifics had been revealed and the topic of gun control took center stage. Accordingly, the anticipated slants from the likes of conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC were there for the eyes to see. Like the presidential election before this tragedy and the fiscal cliff showdown that followed, the all-too-familiar talking heads and pontificators articulated their views through the slanted approach we’ve come to know over time.
Sadly, the subjective, highly emotional perspective found their way into the “hard news” reporting of CNN, long-considered a bastion of true, old-fashioned objective journalism, from the on-the-scenes reporting of Soledad O’Brien to the bombastic, salacious interrogation of Piers Morgan.
Those of us who were schooled in journalism learned early on that true, objective reporting should never include slant, subjective interpretation of facts, or the slightest trace of personal beliefs, no matter how deeply embedded they might be.
Gather the facts, and report them accurately and without the interjection of opinion.
Since its inception in 1980, CNN established a name for itself as a source of objective hard-news coverage offered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its journalistic prowess and integrity were honed through landmark coverage from international occurrences like the Challenger disaster in 1986, the Persian Gulf War five years later, and the attack on New York’s World Trade Center in 2001.
For more than 30 years, CNN was the “go-to” source for clear, unfiltered news coverage. Seemingly, ratings gains from upstarts Fox and MSNBC in recent years have impacted CNN’s approach. Sadly, hard-news just doesn’t sell these days.
But for those of us—and this group must be larger than network executives think—who seek unbiased, truly objective news reporting, we have to believe that opportunity exists for a national broadcast entity to stay on the straight line without taking sides on any issue—no matter how heightened sensitivities may be. Here’s hoping someone—anyone—sees this need and brings us “news coverage” in its truest, and most literal definition.
Photo courtesy of article.wn.com