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 -- It's happening right now
- Significance -- It's affecting a lot of people, especially the target audience
- Proximity -- It's happening locally or to people with whom the audience relates
- Prominence -- It's happening to a famous person or organization
- Human Interest -- It's 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 won't be able to attend. It's 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, it's sometimes easier to hold press conferences in dedicated conference rooms, either at an organization's headquarters, a hotel or in a local press club.