With the year at an end - and please indulge me - it's probably the right time to just ask a very simply question of some South African broadcasters, their PR representatives and some journalists supposedly covering TV: Where are the actual articles and earned coverage from the press junkets that the people that you chose, were sent to?
And pardon me for asking, but I'm asking because 2017 is at an end. I read as much as I can, and I haven't seen any.
Once again 2017 came and went and saw PR people at various TV outfits making dubious and questionable choices when they, in their infinite wisdom, choose certain so-called journalists for overseas press junkets.
These scribes who lovingly go along end up doing very little - actually nothing - about what they went to cover, begging the question of why and how these TV places and their publicists end up justifying the basically zero (0!) to little return on the investment (ROI), and the lack of coverage and earned media.
Several journalists went on international press trips doled out by South African broadcasters in 2017 to cover TV-related issues and shows.
It's literally months later and there's been very little to actually no coverage about it - making it 100% likely that in the waning moments of this year there won't be. Or ever.
The problem is two-fold: Bad PR execs who make wrong choices, and bad media supposedly covering TV but not delivering and actually reporting.
Since it is the end of 2017, lets look back and reflect on the year's biggest PR boo-baah's that came and went and where PR executives (bless their souls) who should know better but don't, moronically keep selecting incompetent and mostly lazy journalists who should be doing better and more (or at least something) in return, but aren't.
Here's just the top 3 South African TV junket money-wasting, head-scratching flops of 2017 in my opinion, with some background:
In April the SABC, SABC3 and Bell-Phillip Television Productions Inc. sent two Johannesburg journalists for a week to the Bold and the Beautiful's studio at CBS Television City Studio in Los Angeles to cover the show's 30th annniversary.
The two journalists were given one-on-one interviews with several of the top billing soap stars (to this day none of these interviews that were conducted have appeared as separate articles or pieces), got a set tour, spoke to producers and did a champagne lunch at executive producer and head writer Bradley Bell's private Malibu beach mansion in California with the cast.
The journos were however quick to post insta-snaps on their own social media accounts, showing how they mingle with the soap stars.
The one journalist left the newspaper shortly afterwards at the end of the very same month as the overseas trip (!!) with only one collective experience story, and a Terry Pheto interview/profile story that appeared in print.
Safe to say, there won't be more from a week's soap set visit.
The other - an inexperienced and fawning blogger, from a site that 8 months down the line since the junket happened apparently doesn't even exist anymore - was seemingly so overwhelmed by the whole glitz-extravaganza of an American soap set junket that she ended up doing one posting with mostly blurry snaps with the Bold cast; promising interviews later.
None ever happened.
So, gotta ask: What exactly was the SABC thinking and how exactly does the SABC's head of TV publicity and the SABC and SABC3's marketing divisions justify the basically non-existent ROI from the media that went on the expensive trip?
A shocking waste and a junket trash-mess that comes across worse than Brooke's love life with very little in actual press coverage to show for it.
Let's call this the LA trip with no return on the investment. Except for the return ticket of course.
After SuperSport took over the sub-Saharan broadcasting rights for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) from e.tv in South Africa, SuperSport chose certain journalists who have very little experience about this type of thing from South Africa and across Africa, to take to New York during August for a week-long
So, gotta ask: Where are all the stories? I saw just two.
Where are all the interviews? Where are the reports, the interviews that were done with wrestlers, and the stories about the press conference and what was said there, and the welcoming ceremony and what happened there and party?
The media stayed for a week. Where on Earth are the reams and reams of rolling coverage, big interviews, big perspective pieces and pictorials on the SuperSport/WWE press junket?
From the Barclay Center to the Holiday Inn Brooklyn Downton and even the One World Observatory that the press who went, visited, and where several wrestling stars were milling about, you won't find one interview with any of them, a single pictorial article, or even any interviews with SuperSport South Africa's executives or bosses who also went to New York.
What a big waste, once again raising the question on what exactly the return on the investment for SuperSport was from the media it chose to take along.
When Gideon Khobane, SuperSport CEO, spoke a month later in September and addressed TV critics and the media at the DStv Showcase, hyping up the wrestling and WWE that is now on DStv, it felt disingenuous, fake and extremely hollow.
It was odd having to listen to Gideon Khobane making as if the WWE is this big thing for SuperSport and MultiChoice in South Africa and across Africa during his presentation, when SuperSport just weeks before took some media to New York who barely bothered to do anything about it - and very likely won't.
In October the Chinese pay-TV operator StarTimes (operating as StarSat in South Africa) took a gaggle of so-called journalists from across Africa - including one from South Africa - on a propaganda-like trip to its Beijing pay-TV headquarters.
Take one guess how many stories and actual reporting about this press junket appeared after the 10-day long trip to Beijing and Guangzhou?
While a South African journalist went as well as part of the (hold your breath!) 51 African journalists from 25 countries who visited Beijing, something - anything! - from this razzmatazz press trip that took journalists because they're supposed to write and report about it.
As sad and bad is that it is now more than a year that StarSat in South Africa has been going without any publicist(s), and haven't done any PR to the press about its content and channels.
What exactly was StarSat and StarTimes' return on its mega-investment from the journalists who went to Beijing for the press junket - a gaggle that included journalists who don't even cover TV or understand or care for the pay-TV beat, and who will cycle through and out after the once-off trip and not even cover StarTimes in future?
StarTimes and StarSat sadly don't seem to care at all in getting to know, and building professional media relationships with the various press and media covering it as a business.
As a result you get these big StarTimes money-wasters that result in basically a zero return on investment when it comes to actual press coverage.
2017's runner-up mind-bogglers:
■ ITV Choice (DStv 123) that would literally fly in executives from London and dresses! from the British costume period drama Victoria for its 2017 upfront presentation but can't bother to invite the press and TV critics or even just tell them that it's happening, or issue any information about it afterwards.
■ Coca-Cola that wants to do television but doesn't know the press covering TV, and is so terrible at PR that the latest season of Coca-Cola Africa's advertiser-funded production (AFP) Coke Studio (now renamed Coke Studio Africa) again came and went this year with basically no press coverage despite an actual media launch (that of course lacked actual relevant members of the media).
■ Cell C that did a "big" media launch and cash splash for its new TV streaming service, black, but invited only tech journalists, completely clueless - along with its PR company Joe Public - that media and TV critics exist who cover TV and that in order for consumers to known about the content on a pay-TV service, you actually need to know and communicate with the journalists covering that content.
■ SABC2 taking (only certain) media for a ride at the Gold Reef City amusement park in June while the cash-strapped SABC is out of money, and the bulk of the media who attended not bothering to report about the actual SABC2 content that was shared at the press day event.
■ SABC1 hosting (only certain) media for champagne and spa treatments at the lux Fairlawns Boutique Hotel in Sandton in February, while the cash-strapped SABC is out of money.
The bulk of the invited media who attended didn't bother to do anything about the content and information that SABC1 shared but they did lounge around outside for the whole day as waiters kept bringing wine.