Media Room Guidelines

Chuck Zimmerman 6 Comments

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the media room of today should be configured and managed. I just thought I’d throw out some ideas to help move the conversation along. These are some random thoughts I had on the drive to the airport this morning. I’ve been in more media rooms than I can count with all types of organizations and venues and budgets. So feel free to weigh in with your comments. I’m just offering these ideas as a way to help foster better relationships and more productive work environments for both sides. I think all of us in media and public relations (yes they do go together) really appreciate the efforts that so many companies and groups go to in providing on-site media rooms.

1. How about our ag communications organizations consider this topic as a way to provide a benefit to their members by creating suggested guidelines to companies and organizations who run media rooms at which the members will be attending? For example, perhaps AAEA, LPC, IFAJ and NAFB could create some suggestions in written form and publish them as an aid to meeting planners. I have to believe this would add credibility and weight to the ideas.

2. Internet Access: This is critical to today’s media. We need wireless and we need it in more than just a single room. How about in press rooms and perhaps all meeting rooms at a convention? If that’s too expensive then the general session rooms would be a big help. Many of us are trying to post “live” and this will only enhance the coverage that a company or group will get from the media. Ethernet cables are more stable sometimes but then you create a competitive environment if you’ve got a lot of media attending and that creates problems and hard feelings.

3. Provide sufficient work space. If you’re going to have a lot of media attending they’ll need space to work to spread out with plenty of electrical outlets. Not enough space does the same thing as only providing ethernet cables and not having at least one for everybody.

4. Food. Not all media rooms I participate in supply food. However, it’s really nice when we don’t have the time to go eat. Many of us are working 6a-10p and that’s just the reality of it. We don’t have time to go to the food booth or a local restaurant and stand in line. If we don’t have food we’ll survive but it is a nice feature. At least some beverages and snacks is a good thing. If we could do without something this would be the first way to save some dollars maybe.

5. Definition of Media: How many times have you seen me write or heard me say the lines are blurring? One one hand I think we’re all media today. I know corporate bloggers who are doing more multimedia work than a lot of traditional journalists I know and have a bigger audience. Are they media? Not by a traditional definition and I’m not suggesting we need that massive of a change (yet). However, I do believe that sales people and public relations people are integral to the whole process of gathering and distributing news and information. How many media can afford to attend a convention without advertiser or sponsor support? On location we need easy access and the ability to confer with these folks. They shouldn’t get “free” registrations but at least they shouldn’t have any problems interacting with their own staff or journalists who are open to their information. Where this is very open I don’t see many problems.

Well, I hope that gets the conversation going. TIme to board a plane and find out if the venue I’m going to has a media room. I’ll let you know.


Comments 6

  1. Diane

    Good job Chuck.
    Ref: point 5:

    I feel very strongly that editorial staffs must realize that their salaries come from advertising dollars which are generated by sales representatives. Sometimes this is overlooked and many times under appreciated. A publication must look at themselves as a team and not as separate entities. On the flip side, the editorial side must create a good product for the sales people to sell. This is not the point of your post, however it is important for media to look at these events as a whole and not only for personal position. Teamwork.

    As far as allowing sales/PR people in to media rooms…see above. We are teams.

  2. James Wachai

    You raise very salient points in this posting. An organization will ignore the media at its own peril. Your mention of “Media Room” reminds me that episode during last year’s campaigns when the Clinton campaign confined journalists to a toilet. That was terrible, and Clinton paid a dear price for that. Of course on that day, the toilet episode became the story, not what Clinton said. And that treatment of the media kind of validated the then all common feelings that Clinton was playing hardball with the media. We all know what the rest of the story is.

    Providing a conducive environment where the media can work from can be a boon to an organization’s attempts to court positive media coverage. Why spend thousands of dollars, for instance, organizing a conference and not spend a penny to set up risers for TV journalists or wireless connection for the rest of the crowd? In deciding how to handle the media, we need to know that journalists, first and foremost, are human beings and want to be treated well.

    Regarding who qualifies to be called “media” I think the best word would have been “journalist.” We’re all media, but we’re all not journalists. Media, simply defined, is the plural of medium, which, as we all know, can be likened to a vessel (pipe) where information flow. Journalism, however, is something different; it’s usually associated with “fairness” and “accountability.” A journalist is obligated to be fair-minded and must uphold the “Though shall not condemn unheard” doctrine. Before a journalist declares his/her article is ripe for publication, he has to ensure all the entities that have been mentioned in his article have been accorded a fair hearing. This explains why journalists for the so-called mainstream media go to great lengths to seek comments from people or organizations mentioned in their articles. Failure to do so can seriously jeopardize the journalist’s reputation or that of the media house that he/she works for. The need for fairness in journalism can be further explained by the presence of gatekeepers – editors, Ombudsmen, and, yes, the society- who demand journalists substantiate everything that they write.

    Bloggers usually are not necessarily bound by the so-called “fairness doctrine.” Rarely would a blogger sleep on story until he/she solicits comments from people or organizations mentioned in it. Bloggers are highly opinionated, just like columnists are. And by the way, why do we refer to columnists as journalists?

  3. Cindy

    I would add that we probably don’t need phone lines anymore in media rooms. I doubt if anyone uses a land line phone at this point in time. That could be a place to save money to put into some other area.

  4. Cindy

    Umm – “fairness doctrine”? First of all, the fairness doctrine only applied to broadcasters. Secondly, it was abolished in 1987 – and, God willing, it will not be re-instituted. It was stupid and cumbersome to begin with and it would effectively put conservative talk show hosts off the airwaves today if it were re-instituted. It has NOTHING to do with “objective journalism” – which doesn’t really exist, anyway. Everyone has an agenda.

  5. Leah

    I would completely disagree on the phone line statement Cindy. I like the way you are thinking but it is still necessary for those that want to produce a live show and their stations have not afforded them the opportunity to be completely wireless. When the cell signal is poor and the land lines are down (remember FPS Boone 2008??) There was a problem with noon shows in the MidWest who needed to go live. Thus hurt feelings ensued with one site managers behind part a lot smaller by one said broadcaster, who shall remain nameless. (We did make friends later)

    I agree with Chuck, a lot. So much that my soon to be husband is forced into knowing that if Chuck has it, I’m going to want it. :) Chuck you’ve paved the way for a lot of us to open our minds to realize that what we put on the air, also needs to be put online. Journalists are just that and reading a much much bigger audience. The research NAFB did just drives that point home time and time again.


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