What makes an effective press conference?
A successful press conference is a key public relations tool for making sure a major announcement is heard by as many people as possible. It’s efficient and a fast way of getting your message out to interested media at the one time.
So, what is a press conference? It’s an event where people make an announcement to the media and respond to journalists questions.
A lot of planning and promoting goes into organising a press conference so the announcement needs to be worthy of holding such a large-scale event.
Creating the right messaging for a press conference
Knowing your message and sticking to it is important for an effective press conference. Work out what you want to say and how you want to say it, so you stay ‘on message’.
Holding a mock press conference before helps to hone your answers and prepare for any tough questions. It’s also a good idea to share your messaging with other participants and/or supporters. Make sure you define your goals – are you announcing something positive or are you clearing up a crisis?
How to choose a location for a press conference
The location is important as it immediately sets the scene. Colour and movement and photo opportunities help to make it more interesting, so the venue needs to have enough room for what you require. Consider whether you need a lectern, microphone, and/or visual display, and make sure there’s power outlets for television lights.
If it’s outdoors factor in a wet-weather and ensure there’s enough parking space for the media. Refreshments too are a good idea to help make media crews and journalists feel comfortable.
Make sure the press conference is held at a time that suits the deadlines of the journalists you’re hoping to attract. How long a conference goes for is also important, it’s better to have a short introductory speech with a clear concise message that saves time for questions and follow-up interviews, if they’re required.
Who to invite
The guest list is one of the most important parts of creating a successful press conference. Make sure you have a list of all the relevant media to invite. Sending them a media alert ahead of time is the best way to tell journalists what is planned. Follow this up with phone calls to expand on any details to try and get as many journalists to the press conference as possible.
Other people who might be relevant are VIPs, politicians, business and community leaders, patrons, volunteers, helpers, supporters, and staff members.
After the press conference
It is essential to follow up with journalists who attend the conference after it has finished. This is a great time to make contacts and form relationships and leave a good impression. You can also offer to send follow up information and keep their contact details if you need them for the future.