I speak for every public relation (PR) professional when I say that managing multiple media personnel is a herculean task at a press conference.
Whether a media conference with hundreds of journalists or a media round table of twenty, scrupulous planning is the key to success.
Public relation is Earned media and as the name suggests, one must work hard to earn the trust and credibility of the journalist. Media event is one of a kind opportunity to build a positive brand amongst the members of the media universe. If not executed effectively, it can turn into a nightmare. Having worked in the PR domain for the last few years, I would like to share few tips and methods that can make media handling easy and safe.
1. Prepare Target Media List (TML)
The primary task for a PR professional is to identify the right set of media for a media event. Based on the nature of the event and objective, prepare an exhaustive target media list covering a host of media such as financials, mainlines, regionals, wires, news channels, advertising & marketing media, social media influencers and sector specific magazines(print and web). The right set of media will make a difference that will reflect in your public relation value (PRV) **.
2. Media Invite & RSVP
The press is usually inundated with invites. Sending a Block Your Calendar (BYC) email well in advance helps the journalists plan their calendar. The BYC invite should be followed by an official event invite three to four days prior to the event. The media invite should communicate the what, where, when, why and who, for the journalists to plan their story. In case, the media event is at a particular destination, details like flight details, hotel name and schedule can also be shared along with the invite.
3. Develop Talking Points
Anything shared during a media interaction is public information. Therefore, it is imperative to develop talking points for the spokesperson to avoid any kind of embarrassing situation during the event. Whether a large conference or a small media interaction, it is advised to draft key points and share it with the stakeholders. Additionally, it is essential to think like a journalist and prepare a frequently asked questions docket (including responses) for the spokesperson to prepare in advance.
4. Manage Logistics
Amidst drafting press releases and managing RSVPs, simple logistical elements tend to get ignored, but they are an absolute priority. There are a plethora of items that can make or mar a press conference. If it is a destination event, having a welcome kit along with the event schedule reflects that the event itself has been planned well. For a noteworthy photo op, identify the spot in advance. If photo journalists and TV channels are expected at the event, provide a riser with good visual access. Establishing a media center at the site, enables the journalists to file stories on the spot. Depending on the scale of the event, there are other elements to consider – from arranging a printer for last minute printing to sharing wi-fi password to blocking parking space for outside broadcasting vans.
5. Press Release
Apart from the brief given by the official spokesperson during the event, a press release, forms an integral part of any press conference. There is a window to handover the release; cannot be distributed too early or too late. The communication team should identify the ideal time and distribute it accordingly. Simultaneously, the release, along with brochures and images/videos should be emailed and sent through WhatsApp to make filing a story easier for the reporters.
6. Social Media
In today’s world, digital presence is a must. Online stories, inviting social media influencers or FB/Insta LIVE are no more out of the box concepts, but are hygiene elements. For smooth dissemination of event updates such as LIVE images, event synopsis, brand social media handles et al, create a WhatsApp group for all the journalists present at the event. It is also useful to share pre-drafted tweets with the journalists along with hashtags for greater online visibility. Based on the event, establishing a Twitter/Instagram booth for the journos to share their experience or what they think of the product/service will add the X factor to your conference.
7. Build Relationships
Every media event is a bag full of opportunities for a PR practitioner and s/he should use this moment to interact and build relationships. Chat with media as they check-in, discuss their recent story and future story opportunity if any.
8. Media Kit
Media kit includes typical items like fact sheets, press release, brochures, note pad and pen. But with the world moving towards digitalization, it is important to have a kit that is relevant and useful for the journalist. Adding a pen drive consisting of digital versions of release, brochure and images/ videos helps media to write their story well- which is our end objective.
9. Media Interactions
Planning media interactions for the official spokesperson is very integral. Once the media is identified for an interaction, share the bio of journalists and their recent stories with the spokesperson in advance. Take into consideration time available, finalize the interaction format such as media round table, simulcast, and exclusive interaction (embargoed if needed). In case an important journalist could not attend the conference, make an attempt to organize a telephonic interaction.
10. Follow Up
Share a synopsis of the press release in an email body along with the release (as attachment) for easy access. Disseminating the content presented at the event is well appreciated by media as they might not remember all the facts and figures. Ensure the communication team responds to any media query.
The pandemic has upended the global economy; physical press conferences have been replaced by virtual ones across industries today, however, the points highlighted above, remain marquee irrespective of the medium of communication with its moorings firmly on nurturing relationships.
PRV = Column Inches (print) or seconds (broadcast media) X respective medium’s ad rates
One does not have a definitive criteria or standardized approach to calculate ROI of online coverage or social media. The methodology varies from impressions to likes to engagement based on the story or campaign.
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