Monday, October 10, 2016

The best media green room in the biz? MultiChoice once again makes the media go 'mmm' with delectable delicatessen before the DStv Delicious Food Festival presser.

Who runs the best media green room in the biz? Most definitely MultiChoice with its "Lufthansa business class lounge" type boudoir.

At most press events or press conferences, there's usually the feeding frenzy of the press, preceded or followed by another type of a feeding frenzy: hungry journalists foraging for food.

I didn't attend the DStv Delicious International Food & Music Festival this past weekend but I was invited to, and decided to attend, Friday morning's press conference about it at MultiChoice City in Randburg.

Before the press conference in one of auditoriums at MultiChoice's new headquarters started, media were ushered, as usual, first to a holding pen the media green room where I took this photo, and where a coffee barista and juice bar served the press, along with white-tabled breakfast d'oeuvres.

I didn't actually eat any of the food - I just had two black coffees and a lemon juice - but the food and the presentation looked absolutely terrific.

I instantly thought that I had to remark on it, because I appreciated the thought to do it, the huge effort that went into it, and the intention, impression and expectation that it created.

It's also not the first time the media green room (the walls are literally green) at DStv for press visiting MultiChoice City looks this great - it's actually every time I've been there as a TV critic, just this year, for various press conferences or background meet-and-greet's like what M-Net Movies did a few months ago with the press.

Compared with the throwaway snacks the SABC dish up to the media at Auckland Park and the unappetising spreads several other TV channels find themselves worthy to take out the tin box from time to time for ravenous reporters, the MultiChoice amuse-bouche towers head and shoulders above anyone else.

A few observations:

Firstly, media are not royalty and shouldn't be treated as such (although a lot of them think they are, with over-inflated superego's who want to be endulged).

Food offered and looking like it's straight out of a Downton Abbey garden tea party, should never become a standard expectation for the media.

I and others can go without food or snacks at a media event or press conference - I have no expectation that there must be food, I don't go to things because of food, but I do love it when there's the availability of food.

However, when there are food and drinks offered, the way it looks (even more than how it taste) is part of what actually helps to set the atmosphere.

It signals to journalists (or at least to me) the perceived level of importance of an event and the seriousness (even for something fun) that the news, announcements or press conference is regarded by the news maker.

MultiChoice constantly gets this right.

Having a proper media green room with not just good food on display but a very professional display, shows to media that they didn't take waste their day to go to some namby-pamby time-waster.

This year I was at the MultiChoice City building for things like a MultiChoice programming media showcase, a FOX DStv Empire presser and a M-Net Movies educational media session for instance.

Every single time there was a media green room area, and every single time without fail the food was top notch and presented without fault.

Secondly, there's the service. On Friday after my first black coffee, I returned to the green room barista to get another.

Keep in mind the place is filled with a lot of journalists and nobody's special.

I went: "Please may I have ... " and the barista jumped in, saying "for you, another black coffee? Can I fill this one up for you and in a large cup?"

I was speechless for a moment and said yes. He actually remembered how I took my first one half an hour earlier. Needless to say, I was very, very impressed because I doubt that I'd be able to be like that to people.

And it's not just me it happened to. A diminutive mediarette walked over and joined my side and just as she started her order of "Can I please get ..." the barista handed her a cuppaccino.

It's what she wanted, but she was instantly both amazed and suspicious.

Of course the media is a haughty, cynical bunch and she asked: "Is this now someone else's old one?"

The barista smiled: "No I made it just now."

"And if I didn't ask for a cuppaccino?"

"Then I would have made for you just whatever else you ask for."

Finding the answer acceptable - and what was actually super service - agreeable; mademoiselle took a sip and glided away back to the tables with white roses and white tulips and snacks on silver trays.

MultiChoice's media green room on Friday for the DStv Delicious Food Festival was great. I didn't actually eat anything but the moment I stepped inside I saw and appreciated the effort.

It's something TV channels and productions doing press conferences shouldn't under-estimate, but also something that the media types who go to pressers shouldn't ever take for granted.