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The art of schmoozing the news media

Jack Loo | Sept. 5, 2008
My travels about town this week threw up some interesting points on running events for the news media.

There were two events that I attended this week that provided me with food for thought about the best strategies for wooing the news media. The first was a meet-the-press session by Microsoft, and the second was a briefing held by the Singapore government agency Interactive Digital Media Research and Development Programme Office (IDMPO).

First, the Microsoft networking event with the Singapore management team was held at a very swanky place, a chill out bar called Quarubar at Dempsey Road. The décor and food were great, while there was a wide range of drinks offered.

One thing I liked was that the Microsoft team was moving around the floor, chatting with the members of the press. Also, the space there was not too cramped, but wide enough for people to move around. There were introductions done by Microsoft Singapore managing director Jessica Tan, plus presentations by the marketing boss Haresh Khoobchandani and the new-in-town evangelist John Fernandes

The idea of having Fernandes as the closer was good, especially with the choice of new applications to demonstrate , such as the browser plug-in Silverlight and 3D photo application Photosynth, which was attention grabbing. Picking local tourist landmark Merlion as a demonstration subject for Photosynth worked well too.

But one thing I was not sure of was the length of the presentations. Overall, they were rather long, about some 45 minutes in total, though it was later revealed that the original plan was to have the managers from each of the groups, such as the SMEs cluster, servers and the Windows Client, to make the presentation.

Having said that, each presentation should be cut down to about 10 to 15 minutes, leaving the managers to weave their magic on the floor, the reason being that the attending members of the press are already well acquainted with Microsoft. Another thing to do would be to put the slides onto thumbdrives and hand them out.

The IDMPO briefing held yesterday morning was for the international panel of judges to meet the press and unveil the latest round of innovative digital media projects.

But one strange issue was how the event was set upthe judges were not able to reveal the details of the projects and the leaders of the projects were not on hand to speak about their work. What happened was that the judges were only able to talk about how they felt about the projects and explain on the funding behind these projects.

It would be better to speak to the members of the project team than the judges. Sure they are a distinguished lot in their field, but the whole idea of these projects is to have Made in Singapore intellectual property in technology, so what is more apt than to speak to the researchers behind these great ideas?


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