By Greg Glynn, Account Supervisor
Because we have had so much experience planning press conferences for our clients, we wanted to share what we’ve learned. You can read the 12 tips below and download our 12 Tips for Your Next Press Conference infographic as a handy reference.
- Make sure you have something newsworthy to share
To do this, take a step back and pretend you don’t work for your company or organization and then ask yourself, does this news impact a bigger audience? For example, a new hire is not enough reason to host a press conference. However, if you are opening a new location that will mean more jobs in the local economy and new development, plus construction in a certain part of the town or city, then that is newsworthy.
- Prepare for the weather
Living in Maine, we know the weather can always impact our plans, and a press conference is no exception. You should always have a plan B if the weather doesn’t look good for the day of your press conference. If you are planning to have it outdoors, rain or strong winds can cause a lot of problems, not only for your set-up and backdrop, but for your spokespeople’s hair, clothing and overall comfort level.
- Pick the right time
Reporters typically get their assignments for the day at a morning production meeting and become available around 10 a.m. Typically, the ideal times for press conferences are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Invest in a good backdrop
Marshall Communications recommends having a backdrop big enough so a tight shot of the speaker will show the backdrop images clearly, including a hashtag for your company, organization or specific event (see the hashtag #TrekME at right). It should also feature a “step and repeat” pattern, which means the logo and other visual images are stacked like stairs across the banner so that no matter at what angle the photo or video is captured, multiple visuals are included in the shot.
- Use social media to maximize your exposure
To maximize the exposure for your press conference, record it using Facebook Live. This is a great strategy for any press event so that in case the media doesn’t attend you have the footage and can control the message by broadcasting the full event. At right is a sample of the Facebook Live video Marshall Communications shot at the recent Skowhegan Moose Festival.
- Script the speakers and the event
All speakers should be prepared with talking points or a message map about the topic for the press conference. This is something that most people will do, but often people forget to script the flow and visual elements of the press conference, as well, including what the climax of the event will be. You will also want to consider whether you will have the speakers available for one-on-one interviews with the media after the formal announcement or take questions from the podium or speakers table. Tip: You can learn more about creating a message map on our website.
- Get the media to come
You should always send out a media advisory via email to the local media with the date, time and location of your press conference at least three days before the event.
- Create the ideal media list
It is important to have the best contacts at each media outlet for TV, radio, print and online journalists. The best contacts include the names and emails of the reporters that cover the industry that you work in and who are going to be most interested in your news. The other important person to make sure gets your advisory is the assignment editor at the local and national media outlets that would be likely to cover your announcement.
- Invite more than just the media
While the media is an important audience to have cover the event, it is also important to have stakeholders, local students or children who might be impacted by your news in the background of any photos or to add to the atmosphere. Having the people in attendance who will be impacted most by your news is important. For example, if a hospital is opening a new wing for a children’s ward, you would want children from the hospital there to create a good atmosphere. You would also want to invite leadership from the hospital and other dignitaries. For other types of news, you will want to think about inviting local officials (mayor, selectpersons, legislators, etc.)
- Take photography
You don’t want to look back a few weeks after the event and realize you don’t have any photos from the event. You will also need photos to send to local media, especially newspapers, TV and online journalists.
- Capture B-roll of the announcement
While photos are great, video is even better. In many cases, if you are hosting a newsworthy press conference you should capture it by hiring a professional videographer who can record the event and capture B-roll. B-roll is footage of more candid and natural interactions that happened at the event, as opposed to only having people talking on camera. B-roll is often requested by TV media when they want to report on a story but need more video content so they can read their script while the video plays on the screen.
- Recognize that the end of the press conference is not the end of your work
You should always have a press release that comes out after the press conference and, in today’s 24/7 news cycle, it is very possible that your best results might not come from media that were at the event, but from media that get wind of the news and may request photos or additional information or interviews with the people involved in the announcement.