Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The illogical perks of the press pass

I have always marvelled at the perks the press enjoy. With a quick flash of their pass, press members are licensed to bypass stationary queues, access VIP areas and chow down on complimentary lunches, whilst those without that powerful plastic pass are left clenching their fists at the injustice.

Over the summer, I temporarily joined the fortunate few granted a press pass. Sadly, it was not during Glastonbury, but when working for Horse & Hound magazine at the European Dressage and Show Jumping Championships.

Granted, I enjoyed parking next to the main arena rather than a bus-ride away, supped up the free tea, coffee and biscuits, and revelled in not having to queue for a portaloo, but, I felt these privileges were at least justified as I was working all day – providing essential online coverage of the event for Horse & Hound website users.

However, when I was sent off to a Holland & Barrett press event in London Zoo as magazine representative for Green Futures in November, justifying the press perks was slightly harder.

I had swotted up on circulation figures and details of the target audience, setting off with hopes of returning to the office with a good story and a load of new subscriptions. And I did start enthusiastically – throwing myself into the initial inter-journalist, card-swapping foray and scribbling notes throughout the CEO’s staunch cataloguing of Holland & Barrett’s green credentials. However, when I realised that Green Futures was unlikely to feature a green-themed advert for any shop: my interest started to wane and I had to feign attention.

 My mind rejoined the action only briefly for an interesting story about a deceptive butterfly that lurks in ant-nests gorging on its hosts.

Following this, I made the most of the scrummy lunch (wine and pudding included) and the guided meander around the butterfly house, before being given a given a press bag and left to my own devices, having done nothing at all except lap up the freebies! I was able to spend a happy half-hour roaming around the zoo: gazing at the pelicans, surveying the gorillas and sympathising with the prowling tigers (appreciating it all the more as I hadn’t paid for entry) before returning to the office with nothing other than a full belly and bag of goodies.

I confess openly that I am almost completely business illiterate, but the whole thing seemed slightly illogical to me: more budget-busting than budget-sense in the midst of a recession. Was all of that expensive entertainment simply for the possibility of a few lines of positive publicity…?

I have to say, when I’m classed as one of the press, I'm certainly not complaining about the power of that plastic pass!

1 comment:

  1. I like how you analyse the business of it all; I would be totally engrossed with the loot of the goody bag. You must have a very mature head on your shoulders for such an outlook on it all.