Last week the ABC had a media press conference for its forthcoming kids’ channel ABC3.
Some networks could learn a thing or two from the way the ABC puts together its major launches. They are professional, slick operations that usually result in media getting the right info -with an comprehension of what is being communicated- and delivering it successfully to their respective audiences.
In this arena, ABC often leaves a lot of its rivals for dead.
At its Sydney headquarters on Thursday morning, ABC had gathered media from across the country to give them the good oil on ABC3. For such an occasion, it had built an extravagant, inviting loungeroom that looked like a pretty cool place for a kid to live. There were big screen TVs, lounges, bean bags, big pillows, tennis rackets, garden gnomes, chaise lounges -all theatrically lit in colourful hues.
Media (complete with sensible name tags) were seated informally around the studio on armchairs and couches, patiently enjoying some brunch snacks before BTN presenter Nathan Bazley welcomed them with his bright demeanour.
Bazley then interviewed ABC Director of Television Kim Dalton about what to expect from ABC3, before Dalton took questions from the floor. The whole thing took no more than 30 minutes, but was a pleasant and informative introduction to the new channel.
As each journalist left, they were given a media pack, armed with not only the necessary info in hardcopy, but with a CD of images to accompany their stories and Press Release PDF. Those images even included Bazley and Dalton sitting on those very lounges in what was obviously a prepared photo re-staging of what was to come (see photos). Very, very smart. The two men even made sure to match the same attire they wore at the press conference.
There was also a website, complete with video clips, launched at the same time as the conference. By the time media left the room to report it, it was already functioning in the real world.
Going to so much trouble is not just a mark of how slick the ABC publicity operation is, but illustrates an understanding of what media require in order to report the info.
When ABC launched iView last year it staged a similar major conference. Most sensibly, it allowed media a hands-on, practical use of iView at conference computers before journalists went away to write their stories. As a result, most walked out with a positive view of the platform and gave it good press. That’s how you get a good launch…
Foxtel also gave journos a hands-on experience of its new website and remote record functions at its launch in April.
By contrast, Seven went to a lot of trouble last week with a joint media party for Sunrise, The Morning Show and Weekend Sunrise. With a shindig at the Astral Bar atop Star City casino, it had done everything right, only to see it all unravel when the CEO stepped up to the microphone. The next day, nobody was talking about Sunrise, but a surprising performance by the boss.
Whilst not all events require major launches, too often networks (especially commercial networks) send out a Press Release without any accompanying photograph. Websites are an afterthought. In a digital age these are risky omissions.
Some send out little gifts with a DVD hoping to set them apart from the pack. Others stage an invited lunch or cocktails to schmooze media, adding a cast member or two as a “wow factor.” Game shows have been known to put media in as contestants with giveaway prizes in private rehearsals.