UPDATED: Media Connect who run the media Kickstart forum have once again failed to attract consumer electronic or AV Pro vendors to their event with the Company that runs the event last week calling CE and AV Pro vendors to offer them a free sponsorship.
Research by SmartHouse News reveals that several major vendors who have been involved in the event in the past have said that they will not be returning as a sponsor. Held this week on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland the event is attended more by enterprise and IT vendors selling enterprise messages for large, medium and SMB organisations. The audience is around 50 IT journalists looking for what has been described as an event for IT hacks and freeloaders and “a few days at a luxury resort”.
Among the Companies to have been offered a free CE sponsorship was Amber Technology. Brian Lee the General Manager of consumer for Amber Technology said “We were offered a free sponsorship but unfortunately we were given too short a notice. We tried to get Steve Miller of CEDIA to attend but they also were too busy”.
The event which is funded by vendors who pay to get in front of technology journalists is now seen by some vendors as nothing more than a media junket.
Former participant Jai Kemp the Managing Director of the Digital Products Group who has ateended two Kickstart events said “The event is a hit and miss affair. It’s become more of a media junket than a serious event. They are also holding the event too often and if anything it should only be done once a year”.
Another distributor who took a sponsorship package at a Kick Start Forum and will not be going back was Melbourne based Qualifi who market Philips Pronto Remotes, Marantz, Jamo and several other leading CE brands.
Ralph Grundl, Marketing Director at Qualifi said “The event was far too IT enterprise focused. We are a small Company operating in the CE market and while the event was well run it was not for us. The target audience was not right and there was little interest in consumer technology issues or products”.
A major Sydney vendor who sells both CE and IT products said” The event is a junket and vendors despite being told that they cannot spruik their own products do so. We get more value sending out a good press release than investing in a Kickstart sponsorship. On one occasion I finished my presentation and decided to go for a walk while other vendors were presenting. I found several of the key journalists sitting around a pool drinking and in some cases playing with their children who had been bought along for a free holiday”.
They also said “We got pressured into the event by our PR Company and I am not sure if they got a kickback for signing us up. We now no longer have the same PR Company and we will not be going back to sponsoring a Kickstart event”
As a journalist attending the event the presentations were often boring with vendor after vendor telling us what most journalists had written about before they got to the event. The best value is the networking the one on one interviews and some of the Q&A sessions. In the past 4Square Media has attended several of these events and while some of the content has been good for the SmartOffice SMB market we have found it of little value for the CE or AV Pro market.
We also agreed to attend the current event but pulled out 10 days ago due to our current workload and the final implementation of the new ChannelNews web site which goes live next week.
4Square Media also supplied a reccomendation to the organisers of the event that they approach Kordz a Melbourne based vendor who manufactures cable and cords for sound video and data.They attended this years event along with Sony who launched their new home PC and Lenovo who rolled out their new consumer notebook which SmartHouse wrote about in January and reviewed last month both online and in print.
4Square Media chose not to attend this year because of time restraints and the fact that the content presented was of little value in the CE and AV pro markets.
In the sales pitch by Media Connect vendors are told that they can achieve the following by investing in a KickStart sponsorship.
1. Improve media results: Educate journalists as to why your strategies and messages are relevant and important and you’ll significantly improve the effectiveness of all future media interactions
2. Save time and money: To meet the number of journalists you’ll reach at Kickstart would take months and cost a fortune
3. Build relationships: If you don’t return from Kickstart with a rolodex full of new or improved media relationships you just weren’t trying
4. Pitch Stories and Ideas: Journalists come to Kickstart looking for stories and ideas so help them out!
5. Meet one-on-one: Target those journalists that you consider especially relevant for one-on-one interviews
6. Position your spokesperson: Speak authoritatively on a hot issue and you’ll have journalists phoning for comment next time they need that expert quote
7. Improve mindshare: It’s critical to stay in front of journalists and remain constantly on their radar and this is the perfect way to do that en-masse
8. Reach the unreachable: Kickstart 2008 flies in journalists from all over the country as well as New Zealand
9. Gain credibility and goodwill: Journalists respect and appreciate companies who make the effort to participate in his multi-vendor Forum
10. Understand the media: Our reverse educationals present you with the opportunity to hear from the journalists themselves as to how you can best work with them.
Phil Sim the Managing Director of Media Connect was finally contacted today. He said “Kickstart is not primarily a consumer electronics event it is an IT technology event ”
When it was put to him that consumer electronics and AV Pro was today all about IP based technology, connectivity and networking he said “We are about technology and while we have included consumer presentations in the past the event is about mainstream technology”.
Anthony Caruana a freelance Journalist who attended the recent event wrote in response to this story, I take great offence to the expression freeloaders and hacks. I have attended three KickStart forums and have created relationships with PR professionals and vendors that have been most valuable in my career as a freelance journalist. Furthermore, the relationships I’ve created with other writers and editors have been an important benefit of these conferences. As a result, i have been bale to get access to the right people at the right time so that I can deliver benefit to my readers.
I’d also like to point out that members of the media that bring partners or children do so at their own expense and not at the cost of event sponsors.
KickStart is not, in my view, a consumer electronics event. It is primarily an IT focussed forum although there is some cross-over with CE in many cases (such as the Sony home theatre PC that was demonstrated over lunch on Sunday).
To pan it as not satisfying the needs of a CE-focussed publication is tantamount to criticising the Motor Show for not having enough bicycles. If you’d like a CE focussed event either create one or suggest it the Media Connect team. They’re more than happy to listen to constructive suggestions.
It is true that some members of the media, PR and vendor communities manage to enjoy the conference and share a drink or two (sometimes more). Some even take a swim in the pool or at the beach during scheduled downtime during the event. However, the majority of journalists are filing stories from the media room at the event or working with vendors and PR people on creating stories that are of value to our readerships.