HOW TO ORGANIZE A PRESS CONFERENCE
A press conference is a publicized event in which newsmakers invite journalists and other media outlets to hear them speak about a pressing issue and often follow up with questions.
Determine the Purpose: Hold a press conference only when you have news to present to the public, i.e. a news announcement, a new report released, a staged protest, etc.
Determine your Target Audience: The target audience for your news will determine what kind of event you stage and what media outlets you invite. This means where you stage the event, who speaks, what the banners look like and numerous other details will be decided based on your target audience. For example, events promoting youth related messages will look and sound very different from an event targeting seniors.
Key Days & Times for News: Tuesday, Wednesday in the late morning hours are prime time for press conferences. Do not stage your events late in the afternoon or evening when many reporters are on a deadline. If you must stage a rally after work, for example, at least do it during the evening television news so the station can send cameras for live coverage. Mondays are not preferred because offices are usually closed over the previous weekend and you will not be able to reach key reporters for a couple of days before the event. Fridays are not good either, because the news may come out in Saturday’s media, the least read issue of the newspaper.
Avoid Being “Bumped”: Check for competing events.
Keep the Event Short: About 30 to 45 minutes is a good time frame for a press conference.
Location: Make your event convenient for reporters, yet dynamic and appropriate in terms of backdrop.
Speakers Lineup: Limit your speakers at a press conference to three or four maximum. The first speaker welcomes, hosts, introduces other speakers and communicates key messages. Typical speakers might include: an Executive Director or other key staff person, board member, a person or two representing the personal human interest, a public official, celebrity, local politician or ally. One of the speakers should be an “expert”.
Practice Your Event: For press conferences, consider a “dress rehearsal” the day before with your speakers (at least those who can attend). During the rehearsal, fire questions that reporters may ask at the speakers during the rehearsal, and test any audio-visual equipment you may be using. If time is an issue, meet briefly before prior to the event.
CHECK LIST IN PREPARATION FOR A PRESS CONFERENCE
Define news for press conference and produce a statement
Identify target audience
Location, time and date: schedule and confirm. Check calendar for conflicts
Identify and confirm speakers previously identified
Write media advisory and email/fax to reporters two days before the press conference
Produce deliverables (press kit, reports, videos, etc.) and distribute widely at the press conference and after the press conference
Make sure logistics are in place for your media event (security, crew, volunteers)
Produce banners, posters, podium logo, charts, etc.
Make pitch call to reporters
Hold dress rehearsal for press conference speakers
Test audio-visual equipment
DAY OF PRESS CONFERENCE
Produce and display media check-in sheet and assign staff person to be at check-in desk at all times
Make sure to greet and check in reporters as they arrive
Speakers must start on time. Please be respectful of others schedules
Q&A period after speakers are finished
Hold a short closing after Q&A
Complete follow-up work