Saturday, July 12, 2008

Unexpected Cameras?

So the day of your festival is moving along pretty smoothly when suddenly every TV station in your market waltzes in the door. They know you've got a high elected official attending your event - and they want to interview him. Only the media people know why. You've been busy and haven't seen the news. So, you don't know that a high ranking politician has died.
Now they've already done a terrific job covering your event throughout the morning and afternoon- and have given two weeks worth of pre-event publicity. So you scratch your head and ask - why are they here now with their senior reporters?
This scenario happened to me on July 4, 2008. Senator Jesse Helms had died and none of us working the event knew it - until all the cameras and reporters showed up. They were waiting on Congressman Howard Coble. Both had served together on Capitol Hill.
I had no way of getting in touch with Congressman Coble to alert him reporters and cameras were awaiting him. But, as soon as he appeared, I immediately told him what was going on. He had less than 30 seconds of notice before the questions started.
But that short period gave him time to compose his thoughts. No, this had nothing to do with the festival, but because we were getting ready for a sponsors' luncheon, that included elected officials, suddenly the hard core news of the day was happening in our banquet room.
So what do you do? Facilitate the media's efforts as much as possible. Find them a location to do their interviews. Help them identify key officials, as sometimes reporters/videographers aren't sure who they are. Create an environment that causes little to no disruption of your real event. Then after the interviews are completed, facilitate your elected officials' needs as much as possible. They typically have little time at an event and appreciate a little courtesy and help getting their food, beverage and seat.

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