As social media brand campaigns and live streaming continue to evolve into the norm, it may seem as though the traditional press conference is no longer needed, but that is far from the truth. When it comes to crafting a specific message to benefit your credibility, image and brand, there’s nothing like a press conference to help you accurately guide the narrative and highlight your company’s true mission. The question is, when is it appropriate to hold a press conference and what are its risks and potential benefits?

What is a press conference?

A press conference is an organized meeting for the media. It gives brands or individuals the opportunity to share information, make an announcement and answer questions, all in one shot.

When should you hold a press conference?

A public relations press conference is a great way to bring attention to special news that might be of interest to a broad swath of local, regional or national media, including print, broadcast and online outlets. Examples include a new headquarters or plant that creates new local jobs, a lawsuit with a compelling backstory, company, organization, property, government official or agency, an investigation, indictment, land use or business dispute, allegations of criminal activities, responses to controversies involving your company, key executives or products, safety issues, employees or unions and major incidents with injuries or fatalities or crime.

Essentially, a press conference can be appropriate whether your company is celebrating or conducting damage control. If you’re facing bad press, you can use a news conference to help separate fact from fiction to ensure that your message is consistently and accurately communicated to the public. Press conferences help combat gossip and alternative facts that have become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media.

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Who should attend?

Your invitation list depends on the goal of your press conference. If you are looking for news coverage, then you want to alert media such as TV and newspapers. If you are holding an industry-specific event, invite the proper publications. This is where our experienced South Florida public relations team becomes critical. We are able to leverage our extensive contacts and relationships across multiple industries to bring together the audience you need. Our team has the respect of top media outlets, key industry editors and thought leaders and the major wire services and online portals. In addition to these press outlets, you should also consider inviting cultural and political influencers.

How should I promote my press conference?

Leave it to the PR pros, trusted practitioners who have the experience, team, and contacts to make the biggest splash while evaluating and mitigating risks. We know the proper steps to get media attention. We begin by issuing a press release at least a few days before the conference. That's followed by a media alert the day before and day of; the streamlined advisory answers the who-what-where-when questions and explains why it is important to attend. The professionals may recommend distributing an announcement via a national newswire such as PRNewswire, Business Wire, Access Wire, or PR Web to reach the largest possible local and national audience. This should be used as a supplementary tool. Finally, we employ arguably our most important step, picking up the phone beforehand, the day of and after the press conference to maximize attendance and news coverage.

How should I prepare my press conference participants?

We make sure you are ready for what is about to happen. We will make sure to explain the process and how everything will work, down to what to wear and where to stand. If the you will be taking questions from reporters, you may want to practice and review answers. Always let us know if there is anything negative that could come up, so everyone can be prepared. As a PR professional, we do the research necessary before putting you in front of the media.

How can I minimize risks associated with conducting a press conference?

Planning is key. As Public Relations professionals, we have a checklist to take care of simple but important matters such as checking the audio and video situation beforehand. We review the size of the location to ensure that there is enough room for everyone who is attending. We also make sure participants know how to end the press conference if they feel as though it is going too long or they are not comfortable answering questions. Our experienced staff will make sure everything is ready to go as planned and will intervene if things go south.

What makes a press conference successful?

Organization. Public Relations professionals make sure you are clear on the time, place, and any logistical details that those attending will need to know. We have the answers to all of your questions, from “Where should people park?” to “Will news outlets need to string cable?”. We help you make the point of your press conference clear and expectations manageable. For example, if it is a fundraiser with a famous attendee don’t promise an interview with that A-lister unless you are positive you can deliver.

Should social media be part of the press conference?

Social media can be your friend. Live streaming gives you the ability to share messages nationally and instantly. Years ago, local media had to send video to affiliates once the footage was back in-house. Now, we stream press conferences live on social media, giving national media and publications the opportunity to get your message out there immediately.