Definition of Press Conference
A meeting organized for the purposes of distributing information to the media and answering questions from reporters. Normally the press conference is led by the companys executive management or their appointed press liaison. Given the medias limited resources, it may be difficult to attract major media attention to a press conference unless the company has a truly unique or newsworthy announcement to share. Press conferences can also be issued in response to addressing public relations issues. Have you ever turned on the news and seen a person speaking to members of the press about a new product, a new player just signed to your home team or the president announcing a new policy? Maybe you saw Michael Vick apologize to fans and dog lovers after he pleaded guilty to the dogfighting charges brought against him. If so, then youve seen a press conference in action. A press conference is a staged public relations event in which an organization or individual presents information to members of the mass media.
Along with the press release, public relations professionals use press conferences to draw media attention to a potential story. Press conferences are typically used for political campaigns, emergencies and promotional purposes, such as the launch of a new product. Presidents have been using press conferences since the Wilson administration to alert the country to their stance on issues or to calm public fears. Political activists hold press conferences to state opinion on proposed legislation, and candidates use them to communicate their stance on important issues. Emergency press conferences are held in response to a crisis or disaster.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana and the president all held multiple press conferences to keep the country abreast of events that occurred, as well as the steps being taken to resolve the situation. Emergency press conferences serve a dual role as both public service and public relations, since those responsible for the crisis can use the press conference to regain public trust. Promotional press conferences are among the most common. Public relations professionals use press conferences to make important announcements to gain coverage in newspapers, magazines, blogs and on TV news broadcasts. Reasons to hold a press conference include:
* Introducing a new product
* Revealing a new scientific breakthrough
* Unveiling a new advertising campaign
* Announcing a charity event with a featured celebrity
* Acquiring a new player on a sports team
* Releasing company financial statements
Promotional press conferences offer several advantages, such as the ability to reach all media outlets at the same time while controlling the message. A press conference also can build excitement or anticipation about an event. Press conferences can waste time and money if the story isnt newsworthy or the press conference is poorly organized and executed. In this HowStuffWorks article, were going to explain the ins and outs of planning a press conference, walk you through the key steps, and then explore the emerging trend of Web conferences.
Planning a Press Conference
Step One: Choosing a Story
Not every news or event announcement deserves its own press conference. Press conferences require journalists to travel and set aside time from their busy schedules, so they should be reserved only for stories that are compelling and newsworthy. For a story to be newsworthy, it should satisfy one or more of the following five requirements:
* Timing ” Its happening right now * Significance ” Its affecting a lot of people, especially the target audience * Proximity ” Its happening locally or to people with whom the audience relates * Prominence ” Its happening to a famous person or organization * Human Interest ” Its emotional, such as homeless pets or children living with cancer. * A dramatic location that adds to the story * Strong visuals and good photographic opportunities * Having all the key players in one location to make statements and answer questions * Opportunity for individual, post-press conference interviews
with key players
Step Two: Choosing a Time and Location
Journalists work under tight deadlines. If you hold a press conference too close to when a reporter must file his story, he wont be able to attend. Its important to research the deadlines of local journalists and plan accordingly. Avoid Mondays and Fridays, because these days are likely to be the busiest for journalists. Mornings are always preferable, since it gives daily newspaper and broadcast journalists more time to write their story. A press conference location is equally important for attracting journalists and serving their professional needs.
On-location press conferences can add a dramatic, visual backdrop for an announcement. For example, if a company is donating money to clean a local river, it could hold the press conference at a scenic spot next to the water. Some locations make it difficult to meet the technical and logistical requirements of the media. Some of these are: * Having enough parking for important people and media, including room for large TV production trucks * Availability of a stage, podium and audiovisual aids to present information * Adequate seating for journalists and guests
* Enough electrical outlets to plug in computers, cameras and audiovisual equipment * Ample room for TV cameras to set up their shots; perhaps on a raised platform in back * A mult-box that allows media to receive direct audio feeds from one microphone To meet these requirements, its sometimeseasier to hold press conferences in dedicated conference rooms, either at an organizations headquarters, a hotel or in a local press club