What Are the Keys to Managing a Successful Press Conference?

    Authored By

    PR Thrive

    What Are the Keys to Managing a Successful Press Conference?

    In the fast-paced world of public relations, the art of managing a press conference can make or break a communication strategy. We've gathered insights from seasoned professionals, including a Communications Director who emphasizes the importance of assessing the necessity of a news conference. We also include additional answers that highlight the significance of conveying confidence and authority. Discover the diverse strategies and experiences that have led to successful press conferences, from meticulous planning to the delivery of clear messages.

    • Assess News Conference Necessity
    • Plan for Potential Issues
    • Consider Journalist Convenience
    • Deliver Clear Core Messages
    • Prepare for Q&A Sessions
    • Invite Influential Figures
    • Provide Quality Press Materials
    • Convey Confidence and Authority

    Assess News Conference Necessity

    The first question to ask yourself: Does this deserve a news conference? Is it that significant?

    We recently had a news conference with Phoenix Fire to announce plans by paramedics and Valleywise Health Emergency Department physicians and nurses to address extreme heat this summer. It's a big issue that's been on the public radar locally and nationally because of climate change and extreme weather events.

    Visuals are critical. In our case, Phoenix Fire brought a mannequin and a cold-water immersion bag to demonstrate how we rapidly cool heat stroke patients. A fire captain put the mannequin in the bag and covered it with ice, as they would with a heat stroke patient in the field. Our emergency medicine physicians and nurses talked about their experiences with this technique in the ER and how effective it has been in saving lives.

    More visuals: Our EM physicians and nurses spoke in the new Valleywise Health Emergency Department and Level I Trauma Center (it opens June 13), so we had trauma bays in the background. Use a podium; reporters have to put their mics somewhere.

    News conferences aren't always the answer, but in this case, we covered multiple outlets, including AP, in one fell swoop. The AP story appeared across the country (and the globe!), and the NPR story also went national. This way, you can maximize your impact without having to do the same interviews multiple times.

    Michael MurphyCommunications Director, Valleywise Health

    Plan for Potential Issues

    One that went particularly well for me was for an integrated facilities management company announcing the opening of a new global office in Poland. I credit the press conference’s success, largely, to considering all factors around the announcement when making the plan.

    Generally, a facility opening sounds like it should be nice and straightforward; companies announce this all the time, after all. In reality, there was a level of complexity that needed to be navigated before, during, and after the press conference due to the fact that the company was shutting doors on a London office to open this Polish one.

    While the London employees were offered support to move within the company or to Poland, it was obviously going to ruffle some feathers. Teams from the UK, from Poland, and from the global arm of the company sat down and did a catastrophizing exercise on everything that could possibly go wrong due to this announcement and planned how to address each issue.

    As it turned out, that playbook was very much needed and allowed us to respond with alacrity. Having responses planned out in advance really allows you to smoothly approach issues quickly, when speed is of the essence to get ahead of bad press.

    Greg Listopad
    Greg ListopadConsulting Partner, November Consulting

    Consider Journalist Convenience

    Having worked as both a journalist and a public relations consultant, I have a unique perspective on press conferences. Brands often believe that simply placing their representatives at a podium and inviting media constitutes news. Let's be clear: it does not.

    In fact, if a journalist can cover your press release from their desk, they will not want to spend hours driving to another location just to hear your representatives quote the same content that is in the press release you have sent them. Journalists are too busy to travel for a story unless they need to. Some may choose a different story altogether if it is easier to write.

    When I plan a press conference, I understand that the location, the people speaking, and even the timing of the press conference play a role in its success. For a recent press conference about a condo development, I ensured we had key VIPs on hand, including the mayor, who always draws media. I also held the event on the grounds of the future development, allowing videographers and photographers to capture relevant footage.

    Furthermore, I scheduled the press conference first thing in the morning so journalists would have time to go back to their desks to write the story. The key to a successful press conference is to plan it from the perspective of the journalist and consider how you can make it easier and worthwhile for them to attend your event.

    Andrea Chrysanthou
    Andrea ChrysanthouPrincipal, Amplify

    Deliver Clear Core Messages

    To manage a successful press conference, presenting your message in a clear and brief manner is crucial. A message that is easily understood resonates better with the audience and leaves less room for misinterpretation. It's important to strip away the complexity and focus on delivering your core message effectively.

    By doing so, you grab the attention of your listeners and communicate your points efficiently. Ensure that the message aligns with your objectives and outcomes desired from the conference. Inspire your audience by sharing your vision in the most straightforward way possible.

    Prepare for Q&A Sessions

    A well-thought-out Q&A protocol can significantly enhance the quality of a press conference. Anticipating the questions that may be asked by journalists and preparing thoughtful answers helps to avoid being caught unprepared. This preparation shows respect for the media's role in providing clear information to the public.

    Making sure that responses are not only well-informed but also timely and relevant is key to a successful exchange. It's beneficial to engage with the attendees, give them the information they need, and encourage a constructive dialogue between the media and your organization.

    Invite Influential Figures

    Successful press conferences often depend on the presence of influential individuals and key media personnel. By ensuring that influential figures are in attendance, your message has a better chance of being amplified through their networks. Such strategic invitations contribute significantly to the reach and impact of the conference.

    The coverage provided by these attendees can shape public perception and discussion surrounding your announcements. Invite those who can help disseminate your message to the appropriate audiences and watch your message spread.

    Provide Quality Press Materials

    Essential to any press conference is the provision of compelling press materials that are both informative and easily accessible. The quality of your press materials can set the tone for the entire event, as they are often what the press will use to produce their stories. These materials include data, background information, and related content that complement your spoken words.

    By preparing materials that captivate and inform, you lay the groundwork for clear communication and wide dissemination of your message. Share your press materials with confidence, and encourage journalists to use them to enhance their coverage.

    Convey Confidence and Authority

    Maintaining a calm and confident demeanor throughout the press conference conveys authority and helps to instill trust in your message. When you appear confident, you not only reassure your audience, but you also control the room and the flow of information. This presence can also set a professional tone and reduce the chance of the conference veering off course.

    Even in the face of challenging questions or skepticism, a composed manner encourages respectful discourse. Approach the podium with confidence and lead the conversation with authority.