Press conference dos and don'ts

Is your press conference a waste of time?

Press conference – a good idea or maybe not… 

Press conference dos and don'ts
Press conferences are not always the best way to gain publicity

Most organisations seeking publicity will have thought about holding a press conference or a press launch – the idea being that the world’s media (they hope) will descend and they will be richly rewarded with great publicity.

Much work and sometimes considerable financial expense goes into such a press day. Some organisations might lay on food and drinks – then there are invites to sort and even booklets or a press pack to print.

But for many companies they can be a huge disappointment. Either no one turns up or interest does not materialise into much coverage.

So are they a waste of time and money?

In a word – yes.

Let me add a caveat to that – if you are Apple launching a new iPhone, they are an essential part of your overall marketing strategy.  And if you are Apple or a Manchester United signing a new footballer where the interest is going to be huge and you need to be doing a big unveiling, then an all singing, all dancing press launch is absolutely the right way to go.

But if you are any other company then think carefully.

It’s true that years ago – before the internet – a press launch was indeed the only way to get a story out there to many publications at the same time.

However, the days when members of the press had the time to go to lunchtime dos have gone – journalists are too busy and newsrooms too short staffed to send someone to a press launch.

And if your press launch involves a case study – for example a member of the public who has used your product or service and who is happy to be featured – it can be nerve wracking.

There is another off putting issue. Press launches are not exclusive. Papers and magazines all prefer an exclusive story – not one that is being offered to everyone.

Another danger is the day you choose to hold your press launch could be over shadowed by a big breaking news story. If this happens then there will be no space anyway for any report from your press release in the papers.

By far the best way to go is to offer your story exclusively to one chosen publication first. Let that publication do the interview and style their own photos of any interviewees. Then, let them choose when to publish. And when they do, then send a press release round to other publications which might want to use it.

Yes I agree it is less exciting than arranging a big event. But the results are likely to be better, it will certainly be far less costly – and in the busy and cost-conscious press world, that is how it works these days.

Exclusive story to sell? I offer free advice to small businesses who need publicity. Simply fill in the form and if I can help, I will get back to you…

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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