After the great response I got from his first guest blog post, I’m delighted that Per Henricsson has written another one.This time he highlights the problem of companies asking for journalist briefings about products they’ve already announced.

Why listen to old news?

I realise that Sweden is a small country up north that doesn’t get priority when the marketing departments of the big companies make their plans. I don’t expect them to come to Stockholm to present their new products. Instead, I get a phone briefing or just receive the press releases by e-mail. That’s fine with me and it saves me a lot of time.

But recently, I’ve had some weird experiences.

Two big American companies asked for meetings in Stockholm where they wanted to present new products. It turned out to be products that were already released, that I had already written about.
I pointed it out to the persons that invited me, but they couldn’t do anything besides forwarding my message to the people who had asked for the briefings.

The outcome?

I’m too polite not to turn up, so I sat through presentations of products that I wasn’t going to write about a second time. And it happened twice in less than a week.
When I pointed out to the presenters the news was old, no one seemed to be embarrassed. At first, I thought this happened because I live in the land of darkness and reindeer, but it turned out to be false.

The companies were actually touring Europe giving the same presentations in London, Munich, Milan and other cities.

This made me reflect on a word that is central to every publication, printed or online. The word is news.

To a researcher that has worked a decade on a project, it’s not news when the results finally get published in a scientific magazine. For me, and probably most of my readers, this would be news.
The same is true for most stories that we in the media regard as news. The launch of a FPGA or spectrum analyzer is news for us, but not for the teams that have developed them and not for the key customers that have contributed to the development and have received early versions of the chip or the instrument.

Still we play along and respect the embargo dates. If not, the PR-persons that gave us the information get upset. Or even angry.

So, does anyone understand why these two companies insisted on the briefings when the news was a month old? Do they have meetings with key customers or sales training that they need to do anyway, and briefing the media is just a bonus? Or do they just want to earn more points on their frequent flyer cards?

And by the way, one of the companies had altered the date on the press release they gave me, a phenomenon I’ve written about before.