News conferences are convenient because they let you talk to all the media at once. This is especially useful when you have got breaking news and your spokesperson does not have time to answer phone calls from reporters all day. News conferences also may force news outlets to cover your story since they do not like to be "scooped" by a competitor. They are also visual, which makes for good TV coverage.
On the downside, you should call news conferences with care. Like the boy who cried wolf too many times, you will find that busy reporters will eventually ignore your news conference if earlier ones were unnecessary. Overuse creates bad media relations.
How to Hold a News Conference
- Hold a press conference only when you have something urgent and important to announce
- Schedule it for mid-to-late-morning; that is best for reporters with deadlines
- Keep an eye on potential competition. Do not schedule your event on a day when some other major event is happening, like an election. Think about scheduling it on a weekend or holiday. The media are often starved for news then.
- Choose a visually-appealing (for TV and photos) place that can hold 30 to 50 people. Make sure it has plenty of outlets for electronic equipment. Or add visual interest by holding the news conference at a site with relevance to the story.
- Send out the Notice of News Conference at least two days ahead, explaining what you will be addressing
- Consider including a phone conference call to your press conference so media from other areas can participate
- Make your news conferences interesting. Have visuals, examples, and people related to, or impacted by, the issue
- Keep it short
- Allow plenty of time for questions