Previews and Parties

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Previews and Parties
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Press previews are often scheduled for events to which the general public is invited.

Previews and Parties

Press previews are often scheduled for events to which the general public is invited. Usually a preview is held a day or two ahead of the event so that reporters can write stories that appear on the day that the event actually occurs.

Press previews are almost routine for events such as the opening of new facilities -corporate headquarters, a hospital's new wing, a shopping mall, a department store, a restaurant, even a new toxic waste dump. In most cases, the press gets a background briefing and a tour of the new facilities.

Demonstrations of new products also lend themselves to press previews. This is particularly true in the area of high technology, where sophisticated products can be put through their paces by the engineers who developed them. Many companies have a press preview of their products just before a major trade show. The advantage is that reporters from all over the country are already gathered in one place.

Planning a press preview is like planning any other event. Great attention must be paid to detail and logistics to ensure that the guests have a positive experience.

Previews may also include such things as a cocktail party or dinner. This kind of event is in the category of relationship building and networking. It allows company executives to mingle and socialize with reporters in a casual atmosphere. Ultimately, this helps executives feel more relaxed when a reporter they already know wants to interview them for a story. Unlike news conferences, press previews are often held after "working hours" when treporters are not on deadline.

Junkets

A variation on the press party is the junket. Although the use of junkets has declined in recent years, they are still part of the travel and entertainment industry. Junkets usually involve invitations to reporters for an expense-paid trip to witness an event or see a facility.

An example of a large-scale junket: Disney World in Florida invited 10,000 writers, publishers, and broadcasters to a three-day celebration of the park's fifteenth anniversary. Although large numbers of media representatives took advantage of what was said to be the largest "freebie" in U.S. journalistic history, a number or prominent newspapers blasted the event. The New York Times editorialized that the press was debasing itself by accepting Disney's hospitality and questioned whether reporters could be objective about Disney operations after accepting an all-expense-paid trip.

Junkets, particularly when there is little newsworthy information, raise considerable controversy among journalists and public relations professionals. As a consequence, companies must carefully consider all aspects of sponsoring a junket and its possible negative effect on media relations.

Press parties or junkets, to be effective and garner media attendance, must be handled discreetly. It is against the code of ethics to have lavish banquets and expensive souvenirs simply for the sake of impressing the press. Journalists, although they may attend, generally "badmouth" the affair if they think there is an overt attempt to "buy" favorable coverage.



 

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