Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quiet Press Room Betrays Exhibit Hall Buzz

It is day one of the Satellite 2010 conference at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center located just outside of Washington, DC. The conference facility sites within a planned development called National Harbor that is situated on the shores of the Potomac River.

This is my maiden visit to this facility, so I purposely parked a few blocks away to check out the development’s amenities. It is a nice collection of chain restaurants and high-rise condos, all hyping their “glorious river front views.”

The conference center is sparkling new with amble exhibit hall space, meeting rooms and dining areas. Walking through registration there was also a notable buzz among attendees as scores jockeyed for position to enter the Exhibit Hall at its 11 AM opening.

The press room is a different story. Understandably quiet and tucked away on one of the upper floors, the conference organizers are kind enough to offer free Wi-FI access. I have sequestered away for the morning with my laptop preparing for a set of interviews and meetings.

What I do find surprising (and potentially disturbing) is the unexplained lack of vendor press kits and related materials in the room. Only four companies bothered to make available background information and copies of press releases – Skyterra, Eutelsat, ViaSat and Thales.

Why? A couple of theories among the journalists clicking away on computers and smart phones:

1. There are fewer journalists who attend, so it’s easier for exhibitors to simply provide background, as requested.

2. This is the first year the conference is located at this facility, so many of the PR representatives couldn’t locate the press room.

3. The role of journalists and, in my case, bloggers in reporting the news from the conference has been devalued. Why communicate with these influencers when customers, prospects and partners can be reached directly through social networks?

I’m off to my first meeting of the day. It is with a former client and long-standing relationship who now runs marketing for iDirect.

This post was originally published on Strategic's "What's New at Satellite 2010" blog.

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