A funny thing happened at Sprint’s CES invite-only event tonight. Online media after online media were conveniently left off the list… after receiving personal invitations.
It’s pretty clear what happened here. Dan Hesse was there, and someone realized that online journalists and bloggers would ask tough questions. PhoneNews.com has lost count of the number of times we’ve asked for interviews with Mr. Hesse. We’ve even gone as far as to ask repeatedly starting several months before an event.
At tonight’s debacle, we provided our PhoneNews.com and Newsroom Network credentials. I even showed them the emails where we RSVPed (in two separate emails, no less). But, to no avail. After wasting an hour (yes, a full 60 minutes in transit, walking, and waiting) of our time, they decided to hold a “separate but equal” event for the online media, sans all the stuff they didn’t want us to have access to.
Anyone who can recall what happened to the African American community, knows how separate but equal fails miserably. We won’t be going. Back in 2008, the CEA tried to relegate CES online media as merely “bloggers”, but backed down after just one year, letting journalists choice their identities and accommodations.
Now, in the past, Newsroom Network had a “morons of the show” award. And, technically, we still do. But, instead, I’m going to try something different this year.
Instead of aborting all coverage of Sprint at CES, we’re going to cover them. But, we’re also asking for them and Stanton Communications (the people that managed this debacle) for a formal apology.
We don’t really care where it’s posted, say the @Sprint twitter feed, or on Stanton’s or Sprint’s PR web sites. Doesn’t really matter… we’re not asking for grandstanding, simply a note that they dropped the ball and won’t do it again.
And we’ll keep reminding them of this, slowly posting this from one site, to twitter feed, to the next. Even on places where it doesn’t quite make sense… spreading the word until it clicks in people’s minds.
Because, that’s our job at Newsroom Network, to inform so companies improve. Other members of the media just take it… we don’t. It’s why we report and advocate to the consumer, and when companies waste hour(s) of our time… we have to hold them to account, no different from when they waste your time.
Update: Sprint did issue an apology to me for the problem at CES. Stanton Communications claimed that they didn’t receive our emails until weeks later, when we had started to contact Sprint representatives directly (having not received confirmation of our RSVP). They also claimed that the fire marshall was preventing them from letting additional people in, something that was not stated to us by Stanton at the event.
Since CES, Sprint and Stanton have treated us with the high level of respect that we’ve come to expect from Sprint media relations, they’ve clearly worked to demonstrate that this was a one-time mistake.