Is there still a place for media exclusivity?

It is interesting to see journalists release a press release, especially one advocating two-way communications as in the Guild of Motoring Writers taking a stand on public access to the British Motor Show Press Day.

Obviously the Guild would seek to persuade the Show organisers to reverse their plans, making such “dialogue” of the asymmetric kind.  Would there be any benefit in having discussed or advised the media of any decision in a format other than a press release?  A release seems to imply journalists should simply report the news – which obviously they may be unlikely to do now many have expressed negative views and become active publics.

The move could be argued as part of the opening up of access to media material to the public, such as online newsrooms which are not password or otherwise restricted.

In the age of “consumer generated content”, the media’s role as a “gatekeeper” in providing public with information, insight and opinion is being challenged.  Although, in this case, the move to offer “exclusive” access to press day seems to be about generating media coverage and on the day buzz rather than to attract the type of public who will report their views through social media such as blogging.

[UPDATE: The Chartered Institute of Journalists has now issued a release claiming the plans (for 500 members of the public each paying £100 will “interfere with the work of the bona fide press” and make it difficult for journalists to find places at conferences and launches (see feature in MIPAA magazine on views on these).  The release also criticises the possibility the tickets will be taken by “citizen journalists” and some public who will “masquerade as journalists in order to obtain copies of expensive and ‘collectable’ press packs with a view to later selling them on Internet auction sites”.  This misses the fact that most press info is now digital and any press packs on Amazon etc currently will have come from the “professional journalist” – who would otherwise bin said collectable.  Besides – don’t they think the organisers will have a process for distinguishing the public – and aren’t most of these journalists known to the PRs anyway?]

One of the roles that a press day at an exhibition offers is to create desire in the public, with some allure of the “glamour” of restricted access – which appeals to both media and the public who can’t gain access.  Whether opening this out to the public will add to the air of exclusivity, create word of mouth buzz, demystify the media machine or further reduce the relevance of a press day, only time may tell.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.