For PR pros watching last night’s Academy Awards, surely there were at least a few of them yelling “Cut!” in the direction of their television.
Well versed in planning and producing events, conferences and awards programs, communications execs must have winced when they noticed that nearly 90 minutes into the Oscars, only one major award (Best Supporting Actor) had been handed out.
It was toward midnight that the Oscars culminated with the announcement of the Best Picture Award (“Argo”), just about three and a half hours after the ceremony began.
That could not have been the best scenario for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. According to Deadline.com, after 11:00 p.m. ET, ABC, which broadcasts the annual event, loses 100,000 people per minute (per ABC research).
Indeed, for PR execs last night’s Oscars put the spotlight on the need to produce awards programs that are short, sweet and to the point, sans any extraneous material (read: a rather confusing and jumbled tribute to the 50th anniversary of James Bond films and one too many dance numbers).
In a digital age, how long before Oscar categories like Best Sound Mixing or Documentary Short Subject are relegated to an online broadcast while the network broadcast carries those awards that people are really tuning into see, such as Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Actor?
Ditto for awards programs that are packaged by communicators, regardless of the audience.
Scale aside, PR pros have to make sure that when producing awards programs they don’t try to stuff 10 pounds of show into a five-pound bag, as the Oscars apparently tried to do last night, but put a laser-like focus on the kind of content that people can indulge in for 90 minutes or, tops, two hours.
Managers and workers at all levels are notoriously time-poor these days, regardless of the business sector.
If PR professionals want to drive more people to their awards programs (and boost lead revenue) they can no longer produce shows that, with or without “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane as the host, take on an interminable quality. It’s hard enough getting people to look up from their iPhone or iPad.
Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1