- Defined message
- The site
- Selected and trained participants.
- Contact the media
- Follow up with the media.
- Develop a press kit.
- A list of participants
- Prepare the room.
Defined message – Define the key message(s) that you and your group are trying to get out to the community. Your goal may be to introduce or shed more light on your issue, to announce a new program or event, to react to a news story or to a criticism of or attack on your effort, or to draw attention to an honor or award your effort has earned. Whatever the message, it should be summarized in clear 3-5 key points to the press. If a date, a time, an address or phone number, or other specific information is part of the message – if the purpose of the press conference is to announce an upcoming event, for example – make sure to give it more than once, and to have it displayed prominently in your press kit (see #7 below.) Double- or triple-check any such information to make sure you have it right, both in
Schedule the date and time - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days for press conferences, as they are considered slower news days. Try to have your press conference on one of these days if at all possible. The best time to schedule your press conference is between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m, to ensure maximum coverage by the media. If you schedule it later, you risk missing the afternoon paper or evening news.
Pick the site – Make sure you pick a location for the press conference that has adequate parking and is not too far away for reporters to travel.
Select and train your participants – You will want your participants to be knowledgeable and articulate about the issue. They should be able to handle press questioning and scrutiny as well. People with high credibility, such as local politicians, the director of a local health promotion organization, or a physician may make effective spokespeople. Firsthand testimony from people from the community affected by the issue can be extremely powerful and convincing
Contact the media – The first step in contacting the media is to create a comprehensive mailing list of assignment editors at television stations, news directors at radio stations, and at major newspapers, and editors at weekly newspapers. You may even want to include the wire services (AP, UPI). Others you’ll want to be sure to include on your list are reporters you have worked with before, contacts in the media you may have, and reporters who may have covered the issue in recent months.
If your organization has had occasion to work with the media before, you should have personal contacts with a number of media people. If you haven’t made those contacts, this is a good time to start. The media aren’t things – they’re made up of human beings doing their jobs. If you can make human contact with those folks, and especially if you can make their jobs easier, they’ll return the favor
Follow up with the media – After you and your group have mailed the press advisories to the media, you will want to follow up your press advisory with phone contact to the major media outlets. Give your press advisory three days to arrive, then begin your telephone follow-ups with the people you sent your press advisory to (if they say they never got one, offer to bring or FAX one to them). Also, follow up a second time the morning of the press conference.
Develop a press kit – A press kit is a folder of information to give reporters background information about your issue or program. Press kits are very useful, if your group can afford it. If a press kit is beyond your budget, a press advisory will do. Your press kit should contain the following:
A list of press conference participants – have the list of participants.
Prepare the room – There are a number of things you can do to prepare the room you’re holding the press conference in. Here are some tips:
- Check the location of electrical outlets for microphones and lights.
- Set up the room with a table long enough to seat all your spokespeople, with name cards.
- Provide enough seating in the room for reporters, and enough room for their supporting equipment (e.g., cameras, microphone).
- Display visuals as a backdrop to your speaker’s table: charts, posters, etc.
- Have a sign-in pad for attendance.
- Provide a podium for the moderator, perhaps with your organization’s logo on it.
- Have coffee, tea, water, and any other refreshments set up.
Attendance – to prepare an attendance
What sort of press conference is it?
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