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Are Press Conferences still the way to go?

In diesem Artikel denke ich ein bisschen über den Sinn und Unsinn von Pressekonferenzen nach, vor allem im Hinblick auf die heutigen Möglichkeiten, die Datenautobahnen so bieten.

People following me on Twitter might have noticed my recent thinkings about this traditional entity called „Press Conference“ and in fact it is an interesting thing to think about.

My thinking of Press Conferences is somehow twofold. First of all for me they represent some relict from ancient mass media only times. Back then when companies had world wide customers but only limited tools to interact with them it was a problem to reach the mass if you wanted to get the word out about something new. Luckily newspapers, TV and other means of reaching a lot of people emerged and they indeed reach quite a lot people. Now it is logical to use these institutions to spread the word and thus press conferences have been invented. A small group of journalists gets the scoop and hopefully will distribute it through their mass media channels.

Of course this sort of communication is only one way, from the company, filtered through press to the (potential) client. Thus it’s sort of the old way to do communication just because it wasn’t differently possible back then.

On the other hand a press conference is maybe as close to a conversation as you can get (if we take the Cluetrain Manifesto here where it says „Markets are conversations“). Of course this conversation is sort of limited to a small group and probably not very personal. But it’s at least a small form of a two-way conversation.

Now we live in different times and as you can read in the Cluetrain Manifesto and other publications, the world has changed and we have the internet now (esp. the web, version 2.312352 public alpha). With the web and today’s bandwidth (unfortunately not everywhere but still) it’s easier than ever to reach a lot of people directly. Mass media for doing that is not that much needed anymore and that is why I am wondering if press conferences might not be completely different in the future.

Imagine that everyone of them gets broadcasted, that ordinary people and even bloggers ( ;-) ) can ask questions, if it maybe takes place in Second Life as it already happened and so on. Wouldn’t this make more sense?

There is even some problem with having the press as a filter due to many reasons:

  • The journalist in question could just not be competent (be it a bad journalist in general or just not his or her topic)
  • Newspapers and TV features only have limited space or time so you only can summarize. In News programs it migth even be just 5 sentences.
  • Journalists might not be that well paid and might be unmotivated
  • Journalists might have time constraints as they have too much on their plate.
  • Journalists need to make sure the newspaper/TV program sells and thus might be more up for catchy stories or headlines

All of this might also be true for bloggers of course, esp. those earning a living with it (and I really wouldn’t differ too much between those two groups anyway although some individuals from these groups seem very eager to discuss this over and over again in very generalized terms).

So all of that might make up for a bad filter and information might get lost. Thus it might make even more sense to open these events up to the general public.

How I came to think about this?

Yesterday I was attending the office hour of Robin Harper/Linden in Second Life and there was talk about a press conference conducted by Linden Lab in Second Life supposedly for the in-world Second Life press. I wasn’t there but what I heard was the following:

It is supposed to be a regular event probably in different time zones

  • There is a list of invited in-world press (no sign on how to get on it and it wasn’t too clear what the requirements are for it but somebody suggested that probably any blogger who reports regularly about SL can ask for an invite and probably Catherine Linden is the one to ask).
  • The event is done via Voice Chat
  • It is done in the form of a presentation (this time it was about the new search functionality) and a Q&A
  • For the first meeting there have been about 7 reporters.
  • No transcript is available due to voice and also no recording but this is planned for next time.
  • The idea is to use the SL press as multiplicators to reach more residents

So the outcome of this is not too well but as it’s the first one that’s probably ok. Unfortunately I did not hear that much about the press conference and wouldn’t have attended that meeting I still wouldn’t know.

My idea here was that this could even be streamed live inside SL, maybe as they do it at the Metanomics events where is filming and broadcasting it and you can watch this at many places all over SL. There is also a group backchannel chat available and moderated questions get asked. I attended some of these and I think that’s quite a good solution given the sim limitations you have in Second Life.

But there seems to be some hesitation from Linden Lab to do that as this seemed more like a townhall meeting. These have been conducted for quite some time but dropped for now as it wasn’t possible to reach that many residents.

Now all in all I don’t see a difference between a townhall and a (modern) press conference, you can manage it the same way as at monday’s press conference but with more people (double virtually attending). You can still limit the questions and by not having everybody on one sim you can even handle the „chat noise“.

With this approach you have solved many problems:

  • Information is first hand and not filtered by somebody
  • Press can still write about it as not everybody will attend these
  • You only need one type of event and can better manage your time

So if you want to reach the most people possible IMHO you should open it up as much as possible.

Update: Thanks to Mal Burns for telling me about the MP3 recording Bernhard Drax (one of the reporters attending) made: mp3 link


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