The press conference balancing act
The key to press conference success lies with keeping both the journalists and the speakers happy. It is your job to balance everyone’s needs to ensure the conference runs smoothly and that both parties, the speakers and the journalists, achieve their conference aims.
Firstly, we need to evaluate the aims of each party. On the face of it, their aims naturally complement each other; the journalists are scouting for a news-story, while the conference speakers want to get news about their company published; but, your role is to ensure the conference doesn’t lean too far to one side. The journalists must feel that that they have got a good story, while the speakers must believe they have effectively communicated their brand messages, while not giving away any negative news.
So, how is the perfect press conference balance achieved? Here are four top tips for keeping the perfect balance:
- Packed room: Ensure that you have a healthy number of journalists in attendance; a lively room will give the impression that something important is about to be announced, and it will save your speakers of the embarrassment of talking to an empty room. Send out a series of invitations, but remember that journalists tend to work on changeable schedules, so a reminder the day before the conference is a good way to bag any stragglers.
- Content: Content is still King, even at press conferences, so ensure your speakers have some exclusive newsworthy content to announce to the press. You can allude to this in your media invite to encourage more journalists to attend. Give your speakers a list of memorable sound bites to build their announcement around, this will ensure that they cover all of the key points.
- Brief: If there is a sensitive issue that is likely to be brought up it is essential that the speakers are briefed beforehand. Run a few role-plays, where you pretend to be the journalist, and ask the ‘worst case scenario’ questions to ensure that your speaker is ready for anything.
- Flow: If there is a pause when the press conference is thrown out to questions, make sure you have an open question prepared which will keep the speaker talking and hopefully encourage the journalists to some questions themselves.
Follow these tips to master the press conference balance between your journalists and your speakers, and pave the way towards some positive client coverage!