Press Conference Hell
Dang! Tom Norton stole my thunder by blogging about the upcoming CEDIA Expo just one day before I was going to. Oh well, I can still add my two cents before I head off to Denver for the annual confab dedicated to custom consumer-electronics installation.
Since Tom gave you a preview of the products we'll see, I'd like to take this opportunity to address a pet peeve of mine...
As Tom noted, CEDIA gets bigger every year, and for journalists, it also gets more crowded with press conferences. Wednesday is "press day," with wall-to-wall presentations from many familiar names like LG, Toshiba, Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic. The show floor isn't open that day, so it's easy to attend these events.
But Thursday is also jam-packed with press conferences, and Friday isn't much better, which makes it very difficult to cruise the show floor. On the other hand, I've always felt that press conferences are an important part of the trade-show process, because this is where the companies usually focus on their most important new products and announcements.
On the other other hand, some companies squander their press conferences with meaningless drivel. The most egregious example in recent memory was Panasonic's 2007 CES press conference. What a snoozefest! Fortunately, the company did much better last January, and I hear it will have much to talk about at CEDIA this year.
Then there's the problem of foreign companies that insist on having their bigwigs address the audience. There's nothing wrong with this per se, but it can be deadly if the executive can't speak English very well. I realize it's a point of honor among Japanese companies to put their honchos in the spotlight, but it's a real turn-off if we can't understand what is being said.
If companies want to make the most of their press conferences, here's how to do it: Hold an event only if you have something important to say, and say it concisely. Don't go on and on about marketing and corporate strategiesstay focused on new products. This is what most consumers want to read about, so it's what most journalists are going to write about. (Market analysts are another story. In fact, I've often thought it would behoove companies to hold two eventsone for consumer journalists and another for analysts. This would relieve the crush at major press conferences and give each group more of what it needs.)
Finally, resist the temptation to include the CEO or other mucky muck who might be brilliant but can't speak English well enough to be understood by those you are trying to impress. If you want to capture journalists' attention with a personality, get a celebrity like director Barry Sonnenfeld (pictured above), who appeared at Sony's CEDIA press conference last year.
And so off I go. I'll be blogging from the show many times per day, so be sure to check in often. I'll do my best to translate what I learn at press conferences and on the show floor into plain English so you get a clear picture of the new toys that will surely entice you in the months ahead.
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