The Five Point Press Conference Checklist

Posted in PR by David Oates

There may come a time when you have a news item worthy of conducting a press conference. Doing so may be the most efficient way to get meaningful information out promptly.

Activities such as this can generate good coverage that runs in the “A Block” (first segment) of the local television broadcast, the top fold of your local paper or — better yet — the homepage of a news site. So there are good reasons to consider holding one. Before you do, scrub your press conference idea through this five-point criteria.

The Five Point Press Conference Checklist

1. Is Your News “Press Worthy” Enough?

You will need to take a hard look at the information you’re conveying and determine how impactful the information is outside of your organization. Part of this has to do with how much of an industry leader you already are. So while Apple can call a press conference to announce the launch of a new mobile device, a start-up consumer tech firm with little to no track record can’t do the same. Try testing the waters with a few trusted reporters first to see if they’d be open to it, even if it means giving them a head’s up under embargo or offering them tidbits of information that you’re not disclosing to other news outlets. The feedback you’ll get will be extremely valuable in figuring out whether your idea for a press conference will draw interest.

2. Are You Competing Against Other Events?

Nothing is worse than holding an event at the same time someone else is. While you can’t account for activities that may arise unexpectedly, check the calendars and try to avoid any scheduled conflicts where news media are forced to pick one over the other. You’ll mitigate the chance of getting a lower turnout than desired.

3. Do You Have An Updated Media List?

More important, be sure to identify the specific reporters you want to attend. Blasting it to the general assignment desks may not be enough. Have both emails and phone numbers handy. You’ll want to follow up by phone soon after sending the announcement to be sure everyone sees it.

4. Are Logistics Plans In Place?

Depending on the number of press you expect to attend, you’ll want to have suitable audio/visual support available, such as a podium, microphone, mult box and risers for cameras. Signage, fact sheets and graphics should be available to reporters in both print and digital formats. Determine where news crews will park their vehicles when they arrive; especially so if television live satellite trucks are present. Make covering your press conference as easy as possible for reporters.

5. How Will You Handle Q&A?

Determine in advance if and how you’ll take questions. Prep your spokespeople accordingly for what type of inquiries they’re likely to receive and how to weave in your key messages. It may be wise to do a practice run if time permits. You’ll also want to determine how long you’ll field questions and how to make ending the event as smooth as possible.

Holding a press conference can be a great tactic in support of your PR and marketing strategy. Making one successful takes significant preparation and care. Don’t go into one lightly. Like most things, you’ll get out of it only what you put into it.

About David Oates

David Oates, APR, is Founder and President of Stalwart Communications, a Pay-On-Performance PR and Marketing Agency. He possesses 20 years of extensive experience directing marketing and public relations programs on a tactical and strategic level through a long and successful career that spans both agency, corporate and military environments. David is an accredited public relations expert affiliated with the Public Relations Society of America. He can be reached at
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