Media Room Guidelines

Chuck Zimmerman

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.