STEPHEN JOBS' DEVICES HAVE CHANGED HOW PROFESSIONALS STAGE PRESS CONFERENCES FOR THE ARTS IN TORONTO THESE DAYS
|The day of cameramen staying off stage are over - OSC presser|
The room full of science geeks agreed with the visiting curator. Little did they know how much Stephen Jobs has changed how PR people like me stage media events – including the event they were at.
In the old days - a year ago - there was a certain never-stray-from blue print for the physical set-up of a press event. The appearance at pressers of the I-Pad, the I-Phone and vastly improved lightweight cameras, video recorders and audio recorders has forced publicists in the non-profit Arts sector to change how media events are set up and run.
BACK IN 2010: there is a raised well lit stage, a podium (large enough to hold radio tape machines - and at an angle not too acute so they won't slide off), seating for 20, a raised platform for video cameras, a sound board where cameras and audio recorders can plug in and a check-in table where the media can leave their contact numbers and pick up press kits, DVD photo/avi files and small capacity memory sticks loaded with releases and photos. The audio speakers are hidden from view and there are power bars on the floor for the cameras and their lights.
|Blogger with baby at CBC Canada Reads launch in Toronto.|
WHERE ARE THE AUDIO SPEAKERS?
At the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, (where I help out) a decision was made several years ago to have the public address speakers in the Great Hall hidden in the ceiling, 10-metres above the stage. The reasoning back then was that media would not record off the speakers but instead would plug into a soundboard to get a direct distortion-free feed from the podium microphones. Audio speakers were seen as a visual distraction.
I-PHONE IS A PORTABLE AUDIO RECORDER FOR MANY REPORTERS
This was a "sound" philosophy back then, but, nowadays it doesn't work that way. Many attendees at press conferences now use I-phones and other smart phone units to record the spoken word. Trouble is, there isn't a universal plug-in size for smart phones and digital recorders to record off those old technology AV sounds boards. Most I-phone journalists now stand as close as they can to event loud speakers and hold their phones like pizzas to record the sound until their arm gives out!
|reporter uses IPhone to collect sound bites|
PLATFORM FOR CAMERAS NOT AS CROWDED AS IT USED TO BE
The traditional press conference platform for cameras on tripods was important to give unobstructed TV newsroom footage of the speeches. The raised platform gives a clear shot at the stage. Trouble is in 2011, with people using lightweight cameras, the static camera shot is no longer important.
At the Sun traditional photographers are going the way of the reel-to-reel recorder. Reporters are expected shoot stills, video and take notes at pressers. Nowadays reporters, social media practioners and camera people are everywhere doing everything. Sitting on the floor in front. Standing in the wings. Getting shots from behind the stage. Sometimes they aren't even in the room depending instead on SKYPE and on-line coverage of the conference (provided by the host of the presser).
SOCIAL MEDIA JOURNALISTS DON'T KNOW THEIR PLACE
Cameraman from mainstream media have to compete with new reporters who have no sense of the old press conference decorum (stay in your seat till the speeches are over) and are prone to wandering on the stage with their cameras in hand. Take a look at the posted photo from the Da Vinci press conference where a CBC TV crew followed a social media camera person and came right up on stage, uninvited, to get a close-up of a musician playing (for the very first time) the Leonardo invention of the Harpsichord-Viola.
And, with more and more reporters using I-Pads to shoot video, there is no need for a tripod. Their shot sequences, because of arm fatigue, tend to be very short. And the best I-Pad video shots are as close as possible to the action. Compare the footprint of an I-Pad reporter and a TV crew at the same AGO presser (for the Marc Chagall exhibition) as pictured below.
|In-gallery traditional TV interview|
|Reporter captures images of Chagall with I-Pad|
This summer at the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto parade there were three media outlets using IPads on the parade route compared to none last year! As well, media at the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival (formally known as Caribana), gave up on bulky and expensive digital video cameras and used cheaper Cannon still-cameras to shoot high def video as well as traditional photographs (http://20minutesoffame.blogspot.com/2011/09/we-dont-need-no-stinking-video-cameras.html)
PRESS KITS GOING GOING GONE
Press kits are really just a collection of factoid documents and pictures that tell journalists what they just saw at a media event. They are meant to be used when the reporter returns to the newsroom to write a story. In 2011 some reporters come to events and tweet and blog while the conference is unfolding. By the time they get their press kit - be it in print or on a loaded memory stick – their story has already been filed. That press kit is passé before it has even been opened. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/15648554@N05/6312275353/in/photostream)
To make sure media is better informed publicists are now more willing to embargo information so that journalists and their editors are better informed for their instant reportage. (Of course, that means media can decide not to attend press events if the information isn't newsworthy or interesting enough). And, with social media’s demand for live theatre, presser are becoming more male/female show-and-tell events rather than the male dominating talking head pressers of 2010.
REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CHAIRS AND BRING IN THE BAR TABLES
To accommodate this new style instant journalism, press events now are providing several tables (round bar tables are the favoured flavour of the month) to allow social media to work on their I-Pads and I-Books as the presser unfolds. Good-bye chairs and coffee tables. Lighting takes into account that social media can be covering an event from a variety of spots in the room.
MAKE ROOM FOR THE HELMET CAM AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
|Make Room For The Helmet Cam|
NEWSTIME IS BOOZETIME
In the Stephen Jobs world, when you hold a presser depends on who you expect to come. Traditional media like to have news conferences in the late morning or early afternoon Monday to Friday. Rush hour is over and there is time to get the facts and return to the newsroom to file the story before quiting time. No liquor or food is served, but coffee is appreciated.
Now if you are playing to social media, you gotta realize that a lot of these people work during the day at real jobs and can't cover an 11am presser. 6pm is not a bad thing if you are pushing a message to You Tube, Twitter and Facebook auidences! Saturday and Sundays works too.
The Social Media makes for strange bedfellows. It is not unusual to have a blogger show up at event reporting on-line for foreign websites. There are active journalists reporting in Toronto daily, via their I-Pads to sites in the US, Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan, China, and the Philippines.
BTW: Bloggers, like me, are self-taught, self-employed and tend to not bother with the ethical and legal worries about accepting free food and liquor. With Twitter people news time is booze time (and bring on that free food).
|Photographer from a Phillipine Website photographs former Globe critic (and now curator) Sarah Milroy at AGO opening of Jack Chambers exhbition|
JOBS HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING!
This rush to accommodate I-pads and I-phones is not limited to reporters. People holding these media events are using them too!
|Launch guests use an IPad to vote for the Grange Prize at the AGO|