Five top tips for a running press conference, virtually or in person.

Five Top tips to maximise the impact of your press conference, virtually or in person.

Whether it’s the regular UK government press conference briefings on the pandemic, or presidents meeting with press, we are increasingly exposed to and aware of how poor or good a press conference can be.

As an experienced press conference moderator, I have observed many occasions where opportunities have been missed to really maximise the time and money invested in convening a press conference. So here are our five top tips to maximise the impact of your press conference – both virtual and in person.

  1. Ascertain the best day, time and location/platform
  2. Identify your key messages and communication channels
  3. Invite the most appropriate audience
  4. Use a professional and experienced team to help design, produce & moderate
  5. Be clear on your next steps

Step 1 – research what is the best date, location or platform, and time for your audience. Often around 11am UK or 12pm CET (especially if you have an international audience) works well as you can follow with networking (possibly over lunch). If in person, locations are usually best near major transport hubs so that it’s easy for people to come from further away (eg airports, train stations) and if possible ensure there is also parking available nearby alternatively you a venue that is iconic and can act as part of the draw. If virtual, make it an easily accessible but secure platform like Teams or Zoom, (in webinar or meeting form) whereby you have the option to spotlight speakers and easily manage Q & A.

Step 2 – identify your key messages and how you are going to communicate them throughout the press conference. So often, I have experienced press conferences where a substantial amount of time and money has been invested but the key message is not clear and therefore the impact is minimal. This is important as you want the journalists and attendees at the press conference to understand what you are communicating so that they can clearly pick up the key messages in their articles, interviews etc.

Make sure that your social media messages align and include a well-researched hashtag for the event so that attendees can Tweet, Instagram or Facebook their attendance. If you have a photo wall or a full stage, ensure the backing to these include any key messages and hashtag(s) so that pictures taken and posted help promote your key messages. Similarly if hosting virtually think about your background. Finally, if you are using any hashtags, make sure the moderator highlights these clearly and regularly throughout the press conference.

Step 3 – research carefully your invitees and give them plenty of advance notice. Your invitees should not only include press but also current and prospective customers as well as industry influencers (eg professional associations, policy advisors) as well as of course any sponsors etc that you may have and their guests.

Step 4 – Use professionals and brief them well. There are three key individuals for in person events you must consider, and these are; moderator, photographer/videographer and social media support. For virtual events these are moderator, social media support and producer.

You may be under budget pressure and therefore tempted to use staff, however, in my experience this can frequently be a false economy especially if they have little experience as this is not their usual role and as such they are not confident and/or competent in performing the tasks assigned to them.

If you decide to use a professional moderator, ensure the individual you appoint has relevant experience of running press conferences in person and/or virtual. Have a briefing call and ensure they have everything they need to run the event in a timely manner. If the event is virtual be sure to do a thorough tech test with all your speakers. Be clear on the key message(s) that need to be delivered and your desired outcomes. Provide them with targeted questions to help run the Q & A. If necessary, plant people within the audience to ask pre-assigned questions. If you are having a panel, brief them on the panel and if possible, include them in a briefing call/tech test with the panel.

Also, ensure the photographer/videographer and virtual producer are properly briefed including a list of key individuals to be filmed and the required outputs from them and timings you need these by (often turn around times can be very tight so that you can supply the press with the necessary footage and photography).

Finally, you may want to consider technologies like Facebook live or Twitter walls as increasingly some press conferences have these elements to them. If you proceed with this, ensure all your support team are appropriately briefed and understand how best to maximise the investment, including key messages.

Step 5 – Finally, the event has gone well; attendance was good and all your messages were clearly delivered and picked up through social media and the press. It is now equally important that your follow up is just as impressive.

Prepare a press release in advance to be released post the press conference and ensure you are able to handle the volume of potential enquiries. You may wish to brief your speaker(s) that they may be invited to give additional interviews in the following days as a result of the press conference.

Finally, if your press conference involved launching or promoting a product or service, you also now have the job of following up with all those who attended to maximise the investment you made – so ensure your sales team is lined up.

James Hasler is a professional event moderator, facilitator and host with experience of running events of all kinds, both in person and in the virtual world. Additionally he is also a professional toastmaster and as such works extensively in the City of London, throughout the UK and Europe, running formal events. Finally he is also a professional voice artist and is often not seen at many events as he works as a “Voice of God” type announcer.

If you wish to learn more about press conference moderation service offered by HaslerHill Consulting, then please contact us at james@haslerhillconsulting.co.uk or call James directly on 0044 (0)7773 229909.



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