Thursday, January 10, 2008
PR attack
From CNN.com/Live's Dan Wright

CNN wrapped up its live coverage of CES today, and our crew will leave on Friday to return to our normal TVs, non-pimped out phones and alarm clocks that don't project onto the ceiling.
We'll also be saying goodbye to the PR ATTACK.

To register for the event, you have to list your company and function, which gets distributed to all the exhibitors on the various floors and halls. That’s pure poker chip gold to an aggressive PR firm.

The emails and phone calls start in late November, each offering private interviews with executives and behind-the-scenes looks at their 'must have' products. Once the show starts, business cards, product pitches and ambush gadget proposals come at you like taxi cabs on the Vegas strip.

As the show went along we lined up guests to appear on our platform and discuss and display products they enjoyed. When the products arrived, so did the handlers. In some cases, the PR firms representing clients offer a simple follow up and a casual, frankly soothing approach to pitch the products, Goldilocks style, not to hard, not too soft.

When we came across Eye-Fi during the pre-show tours and they offered simple conversation and the non-stalking approach getting their message out. Mindy Whittington and Jef Holove took their wireless 2GB Memory Card from the booth to the awards stage by, in my opinion, letting the product do the talking. A simple wireless card that retro fits older digital cameras as well as new cameras to simply upload pictures straight to the popular sharing websites (Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc) without taking the card out of the camera or attaching a cable.

They won one of the Yahoo Tech Last Gadget Standing awards and left a favorable impression on me with a simple non confrontational approach.

Lisa Townsend and Stefan Pollack from Human Touch were also great with helping us stage their massage chair on our set as a prop. Good luck to them all.

I have mixed feeling with the show ending. There's so much too see and so little time, but I look forward to a few months without getting CES PR requests.
When we intially take on a new client, one of the very first initiatives we take is to media train them - yeah we fix the body language, tell em what to wear, what to say...but as far as we are concerned, the most important lesson we teach is how media work - what media want - how they want it - when they want it - what is appropriate - what is not; we explain the contraints media are under from both a timeline and a financial perspective - there's only one of you and hundreds of us. But I also understand the pressure these young bucks are under from their superiors who in turn are feeling the heat from their clients to push thru the clutter - especially at CES. Everyone's butt is on the line and it's a super competitive jungle out there and there's no loyalty cause as an agency you're as good as the last thing you did! No one has time for "relationhip" building in PR these days - it's all so transaction based - it's all about pushing the widget off the shelf - and you'd better do it fast - all of which totally contradicts the premise, the practice of PR. And so, I feel your pain - but try and feel ours.

Esther Buchsbaum, APR
Communications MECA
Montreal/Toronto
PR Attack, indeed! I too cover the show, and for the first couple of days of CES I was getting press releases on my CES RSS feed at the rate of 50-100 an hour!
You survived! No word on Gates? The PR folk you mentioned have a raise coming -- don't they?
The point of these shows is to showcase products for sale. One of the most effective ways to reach customers is press coverage. So why are you surprised that PR firms are working so hard for their clients? Would you want someone working for your product that only puts a halfhearted effort into it? Since media coverage is so important, how else would you suggest they bring their products to your attention?
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