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Choice Words from Schneider the Writer

ARE YOU READY TO MEET THE PRESS?

A press conference is:

A) the height of glamor and glitz.

B) a lot of hard work.

C) downright scary.

Depending on your degree of knowledge, integrity and preparation, a press conference can be any or all of the above. Nothing quite matches the excitement of presenting your company, its products and its people to the press for the first time. Nonetheless, the event requires a great deal of hard work -- from the flawless construction and execution of the speeches to the nitty-gritty details of refreshments and audiovisual equipment. Having done all of that hard work, even seasoned professionals can become unnerved while waiting to greet the guests of honor.

Before deciding to hold a press conference, be sure that what you have to say is truly newsworthy. Then figure out how to tell your story clearly, concisely and accurately. Editors and reporters want to hear the facts, not the adjectives. Be sure to back up any adjective with a number or a fact. If you claim that something you do is unique, be absolutely sure that it is.

Timing is everything. When you plan a press conference, try to eliminate any potential conflict with other press conferences and other major events. Time the event to make it convenient for the editors and reporters, get to the point quickly, spend no more than 30 minutes on the presentation and allow time for questions and answers. In most cases, the entire press conference should take no more than one hour.

Know your audience. Make the presentation appropriate to the level of in-depth or technical knowledge of the editors and reporters in the room. Explain the technical details during the presentation, and hand out written materials to elaborate on the unfamiliar. Use audiovisual materials as appropriate. Plan to spend a few minutes getting acquainted with the audience before and after the formal presentation. Company personnel should plan to greet attendees at the door, escort them to the refreshment table, sit with them during the presentation, chat with them afterwards and escort them to the exit.

Remember that the editors and reporters attending the press conference are human beings. Think of them as partners in supporting and enhancing your industry. If they have taken the time to attend your press conference, they are eager to learn about the technical and human resources that make your company a strong contender in the industry. Create an atmosphere of warmth and mutual respect that will encourage contact after the press conference is over.

When the press conference ends, take only a few minutes to breathe a sigh of relief. Invite the attendees to visit your trade show booth or your company. Send notes to thank the editors and reporters for attending the press conference as quickly as possible. Follow up with phone calls.

Your press conference -- whether your first or your tenth -- is but one milestone in your company's history. By knowing how to take the most effective approach before, during and after the event, you will be eager to hold the next one, and editors and reporters will be eager to attend.

 

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Copyright 1998 Schneider the Writer
Last modified: July 25, 1998

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