In a previous post, 12 steps to planning a press conference, I talked about the best way to plan a press conference. This post discusses how to make sure that you gain the positive media coverage from your press conference that you should.
Press conferences can used to present an opinion, launch a report, respond to a crisis or criticism and make an appeal.
And in all cases, those holding the press conference are able to maintain a level of control which is impossible in a normal interview.
But only if you stage manage and deliver them effectively.
- Work out in advance which panel member is going to deal with which subject matter and make sure you are all in agreement and you stick to this
- It is important to maintain the focus on the key issues and key points that you want to make and don’t get diverted by random questions away from the key topic
- Remember you are giving a presentation, so it is important to have punch and maintain your energy and be conscious of your delivery
- Think about your body language and facial expressions – cameras could show you throughout the event
- Make sure you look alert, passionate and interested and don’t look bored or annoyed
- Remain calm under pressure
- Remember that press conferences do not have the same logical progression as an interview so questions can come on any subject at random
- As with all interview situations, stick to your agenda, don’t just answer the questions but get your key messages across
- You can be quite firm about sticking to the subject matter – the chairperson can stop a journalist asking repeated questions by saying that you need to move on to another question and offering an individual interview afterwards
- If a reporter presses you on an issue not related to the subject matter of the press conference, there is no problem with stepping in and halting this/interrupting after first answer and moving back to your agenda. Good phrases: ‘we’ve got a lot to cover’, ‘we’re really here to talk about the review’ ‘we’re running out of time’, ‘can we just move on from this’.
- If a reporter introduces a topic which is irrelevant and which you would rather not get drawn into, use this to take the press conference back onto your agenda
- You need to be seen to be fair to everyone in the room and give everyone the chance to ask questions
- Don’t be afraid to elaborate on your answers
- If there are no questions, use the pause to make points that you wish to, putting a point to one of your colleagues, or elaborating on something
- Work out a gameplan if no-one asks a question
- Be aware that your audience is both TV, radio and print, so you need to give enough detail for the print journalists to write full articles, so don’t worry too much about soundbites; esp since TV and radio will have the option of individual interviews
- There may be some stupid or ill-informed questions. These are a chance to put your point of view and return the press conference to your agenda
- As with all interviews, don’t repeat negative questions
I know this seems like rather a long list of things to do, but once you’re in the rhythm of it, you should be able to command the room fairly easily and make sure that the event is a success.
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