4.15.2009

Part 1: How To Conduct a Successful Press Conference.....and get media to show up!

Written by Jesse Muhammad

Have you ever experienced calling a press conference and the only reporters that show up are your staff with their throw-away cameras and camera phones? And the only place your story is printed is on your own website?

Well if you have, you may be able to utilize some of these tips.

Being a writer for The Final Call newspaper as well as actively involved in the community, I have had the opportunity to be on both sides of the camera. I have covered numerous press conferences and I have notified the media of many to get them to cover certain issues and events whether it was for a celebrity, youth group, book release or a grassroots organization.

Here are a few tips for Part 1:

1. Be real with yourself: Is the press conference really necessary? Is your product, cause, or story really newsworthy? Do you have any type of relationship with your local media or is this your first time? The answers to these questions will determine how much or less work you will have to do to get them to cover your press conference.

2. Prepare a sharp press release: Make sure you have a catchy headline and an attention-getting lead off paragraph. If you don't have that, you can bank on the fact that your email or fax may be placed in 'File 13'. Use statistics, quotes, and please don't forget the Five Ws and One H. Google search sample press releases online to choose which format works best for you. Avoid grammatical errors in your press release and get straight to the point.

3. Have a catchy subject line: This is the first thing that catches journalist and news directors when they look through emails. How is yours going to stand out? Radiate enthusiasm or seriousness through your subject line to catch their attention. So many potentially good stories may have been overlooked due to neglecting the art of subject lines. Be creative.

For example: I was doing a PR for a huge high school and middle school robotics competition in Houston last year. There were nearly 1,000 students signed up so I used the subject line "Nearly 1,000 geniuses taking Texas Southern University hostage."---it worked!

4. Get Important Emails: I know you may have thought only publicists have all of the "important" emails but that is not true. Did you know you have the freedom to call up to any radio, newspaper or television company and get emails? That's right! So ask for the emails of those who manage the news. Don't get me wrong, it helps greatly to establish relationships in the inside so work on that too.

5. Press the Send Button: Wait! Spell check one more time and make sure you have included all of the information from Steps 2 and 3. Next, if you're emailing to a mass list of news outlets, I suggest sending them bcc to protect privacy. Ready? Fire it off! Unless you have a major celebrity or you have exclusive images of life on mars, don't wait until the last minute to send this off. Make sure this is done at least 2-3 days in advance to give the news department a chance to put you on their schedule.

Next time we're going to talk about how to follow up without being declared a pest, setting up for the media's arrival, and making sure everyone in the press conference is on the same page and on time!.