Real or Staged?

Thoughts on Media Psuedo Events

A pseudo event staged exclusively for publicity in the media is called a media event or a pseudo event. Generally, these events include corporate events, press conferences and product launches.  These efforts are also known as publicity stunts and can be hyped or exaggerated opportunities designed to catch media attention. The results can be either negative or positive.

This type of promotion usually isn’t spontaneous. Press conferences best exemplify the planned nature of such activities.  The media has time to prepare for event coverage (unlike breaking news) and often receives press packets with already established Question/Answer formats, talking points,  and other bits of useful information intended to be useful, even helpful to the media.

One well-covered pseudo media event was the pre-inaugural pro Barak Obama 2009 concert “We Are One” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Big name celebrities, like Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce were on hand. Approximately 400,000 people showed up.

Media pseudo events are also designed to muster public support. And for that reason, they must have a solid foundation or else they will appear to be gimmicky tricks designed to ‘make’ people  feel and then think a certain way. 

When It Goes Wrong

Here's an example of how it can back fire: 

356BC, in a bid for notoriety, historical arson Herostratus burned down one of the seven wonders of the world – the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, in modern-day Turkey. Having burned down the temple in order to become famous, Herostratus made no attempts to deny that he was the culprit. The Ephesian authorities, displeased with his actions and wanting to dissuade any others of a similar temperament, swiftly executed him and denied any mention of his name. Not exactly what he was hoping for.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump uses this technique to get media attention. Invalidating one U.S. Senator’s Prisoner of War status he drew a great deal of media attention which took coverage opportunities away from what other candidates were doing to garner public support.

If the event has “real” legs, then dig in and make it an opportunity the media won’t want to miss. If it is weakly constructed, it could collapse in a way that produces public disapproval.

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