Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Amazon throws a curve into the changing world of press credentials

Six journalism groups recently released results from a survey about press credentials, and how difficult they are to secure these days. The survey asked reporters, photographers, bloggers and citizen journalists to share their experiences, and found that freelancers and photogs had the toughest time getting credentialed, along with citizen journalists who identified themselves as activists. It's a good addition to my collection of examples of how companies, groups and governments are handling press credentials for bloggers.

But now it appears we've all had our eyes on the wrong ball. While the rest of us have been looking for use cases and precedents and taking surveys about proper press credentials, Amazon used its recent announcement of the Amazon Fire phone to blow wide open the typically closed process of press passes.

For a couple of weeks before the announcement--before it was even clear what would be announced--Amazon had a form on its website encouraging journalists, developers and customers to apply to attend, with different screening questions. Customers and developers were invited to submit short videos about why they wanted to attend, and developers had more questions to answer.  I captured the application form in three screen shots:

The unusual mix of attendees changed the event, of course. Customers cheered when the announcement was made, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos personally greeted customer attendees at a luncheon after the press, er, news conference. CNET Reviews' editor-in-chief shared this observation:
Expanding press conference credentials to a wider audience may not be as crazy as it looks in an age of social media, even if you are not a corporation with a product to sell. With fewer journalists to attend press events, and fans who can tweet or blog or Instagram your news, inviting a sampling of customers as well as press--in effect, making it more of an event with press than a press event--may be worth considering. Or, you may want to consider live events for fans and partners, with more efficient electronic release of information to reporters. Would you do it?

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Wikimedia_CH)

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