November 13, 2012 by newsgetting
“A news conference or press conference is a media event in which newsmakers invite journalists to hear them speak and, most often, ask questions.”
This is one of the lot of different sentences you can find to define the Press Conference.
Yet what the press conference really is?
It’s the most stressful and demanding activity within the entire sector of Public Relations: you have to match your CEO’s needs with journalists’ interests and try to survive after that!
There are 3 crucial questions to consider before starting the hard work:
- Does it worth? Is the topic so important to hold a press conference or a press clipping is enough?
- What does your CEO expect from this event? Why does he want to make a statement in front of the press? Is he able to speak in front of a demanding public?
- Are you able to satisfy him? Do you really know how to deal with the Press?
After answering without many problems this questions, you can read the following tips.
STEP ONE: PREPARATION
This is a very delicate phase. You have to bear in mind the press conference aim in every choice you are going to made. Sometimes it could be difficult to explain some communications rules to your CEO so you need a lively imagination.
- Topic: it would be better to hold a conference only when you have an extremely important news or information to present for example M&A (Merger & Acquisition), Rebranding Campaign, Launch of a new product, Crisis Management, … in order to have as much journalists as possible and consequently maximum coverage.
- Spoke persons: there are 2 or 3 speaker, usually CEO and General Manager or someone more qualified to intervene about specific issues. It is very useful to invite a well-recognized chairman to introduce the topic and to manage the turns of word and the Q&A.
- Briefing for the speakers: it is necessary to train up the spoke persons considering that the journalists will try to trouble them especially during the Q&A phase. Most of all they would like to speak for 20 minutes and so, but you know the audience’s attention line lasts a bit less, so they shouldn’t talk for more than 10 minutes.
- Target: locate the target you want to reach with the conference and try to adapt your communication on it to avoid misunderstandings.
- Location and catering: the easier to find, the better! Journalists have less and less time to waste in moving. The best location is easily reachable by the underground or even on foot. Last but not least: delight your participants with a good lunch during which the journalists can have an informal talk with the Top Management of the company.
- Date and Time: be careful on the date! Make sure your conference doesn’t coincide with other companies events to avoid overlapping. Choose a convenient time for the press. The best time to schedule a news conference is 10:00 a.m. This allows time in the morning for the assignment editor to review the story options for the day and to assign a reporter to your event
STEP TWO: REALIZATION
Now you have to put into practice the “Step one” items.
1. Invitation: send out the invitation card 10 days before the event (3-4 days before for dailies and newswires) including crucial useful information such as timing, location, agenda, speakers, chairman, contacts, maps, parking instructions. The simpler, the better.
2. Press Release: it is a sort of summary about the conference. It will be given to journalists to better follow the speakers and sent to the others who are not able to attend.
3. Press kit: collect the press release, the agenda, the company profile, speaker’s curricula, and anything else could be important for the event.
4. Mailing list: select only those journalists who can be interested in your conference. Don’t bother them if they are focused on other issues. Call the editorial office and ask the right journalist.
5. Recall: send the invitation card to the press and start the phone call until you have received positive answers.
6. Location: check the room chosen for the event and be aware that everything is under control (microphones, laptop, video projector, seating arrangement…)
STEP THREE: THE JUDGMENT DAY
At last arrives the crucial date you have worked for all days long. You have to gather your strengths and make the last effort, hoping that everything goes well. You will be very pleased to welcome the press giving them the precious press kit you have prepared and lead them inside the room where the Top Management is ready to start. Give them a quick rundown of what will be happening and where the speeches, statements and interviews will take place. You may need a facial plastic surgery that allow you to keep your smile on even in case of earthquake and you are ready to face any troubles. After the conference you are completely available at journalists’ requests and when everything is finished you can go back to the office to answer to every inquiries.
STEP FOUR: THE DAY AFTER
Now you can collect (or not) the fruits of your work monitoring how many articles the event has produced. Remember that you are valued with the Press Review, the bigger, the better.
This is more or less what happens when your demanding boss wants you to organize a press conference. It’s a very hard work and you have to keep in mind every details.
Every CEO loves to have a speech in front of an audience, but if you haven’t a real news, my personal suggestion is try to avoid it!
Convince your boss that one to one interviews are better and cheaper.
By NewsGetting staff