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"How I Spent My First Media Preview" by Katrina, Age 27


When I arrived in Chicago night of Feb. 5, forecasters were predicting a nigh-apocalyptic snowfall. But I’m from Detroit, and I was in Chicago, and I like to think that upper Midwesterners are made of sterner stuff than the norm.
Still, I knew I’d need to fortify myself against the coming snow and arctic cold. How does the traveler far from home and operating at the mercy of automakers and their PR departments manage such a feat? The image above should provide a clue, as should the photo after the jump.


I’ve made it through three total days of auto show media previews (one in Detroit, two in Chicago), and I think I’ve got it figured out: I watch a press conference, ask the suits a couple of smart-sounding questions, nod intelligently at the answer and then lunge for the food and drinks. After I’ve taken in enough calories to heat Cleveland in perpetuity (remember, it’s still snowing; I need the extra energy to keep warm!), I hunt for a press kit and move on to the next meal conference.
I trust I’m not going to get drummed out of the industry for telling you this, but there’s one good thing about being in automotive analysis, and it’s not the admiration and respect you get from the rest of the journalistic fraternity. No, it’s the way companies try to buy your goodwill through food and drink. (For the record, PR guys, I cannot be bought, but you’re more than welcome to keep trying. I take my comestible bribes incentives very rare with a vodka tonic on the side, and I don’t like chocolate desserts.) Everywhere you turn, there’s something to stuff down your gullet, until you’re indiscriminately swallowing things and feeling like Hunter S. Thompson, except with crab cakes instead of peyote.
So, these are the things I learned as a fledgling media wonk in Chicago:
* The Chicago-style pizza will be cold by the time you get to the front of the line.
* Business-dining etiquette is sorely lacking when it comes to how to elegantly eat a caramel apple.
* If you get a cappuccino every time you pass a friendly convention center employee standing behind a coffee machine that looks like a Dalek, your heart will stop before noon.
* Just because you can eat all the cheese on the hors d’oeuvres table, it doesn’t mean you should, even if the waiters will bring more.
And my most important lesson…
* Making a pig of yourself all day probably means you’ll be too sick to partake in the open bar at the House of Blues, and you’ll have to go home with a tummyache after the Smash Mouth concert.
Also, I was supposed to mention something about cars? There were cars there, too, I guess.
Editor’s Note: This is great! The plan worked. Take Katrina to Chicago, the easiest show on the planet, during the easiest Chicago show ever, and get her hooked… Chicago offers the most relaxed media days on the circuit, but there are also shows that run at breakneck speed, with press conferences every 15 instead of 45 minutes and more than one at at time, where you can’t catch your breath long enough to order the cappuccino!
The Other Editor’s Note: Oh yes, Katrina. Little do you know that, at other auto shows, you will NEED those calories for all of the frenetic sprinting you will be doing. 🙂

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