Handling the News Conference

Article Index
Handling the News Conference
Invitations, Handling the Conference, After the Conference


The invitation list should include all reporters who might be interested. It is better to invite too many than to omit some who may feel slighted. Invitations, which may take the form of a letter, should be mailed or faxed seven to ten days in advance. The telephone can be used if the conference is being scheduled on short notice. In any case, the invitation should state the time and place, the subject to be discussed, and the names of the principal spokespeople who will attend.

Invitations should be marked "RSVP" so that you can make appropriate decisions regarding the size of the meeting room, the number of press kits or other materials, and any special equipment that will be needed. Reporters are notorious for not responding to RSVPs, so it is usually necessary to phone them several days before the event as a reminder and to get a tentative answer.

Handling the Conference

It is important that a news conference be well organized, short, and punctual. It is not a symposium or a seminar. A news conference should run no more than an hour, and the statements by spokespeople should be relatively brief, allowing reporters time to ask questions.

You should brief your employers or clients on what they are going to say, how they are going to say it, and what visual aids will be used to illustrate the announcement. Reporters should receive copies of the text for each speech and other key materials such as slides, charts, and background materials. These are often given to reporters in the form of a press kit. Short bios with the accurate names and titles of the participants can be added to the press kit, as can general news releases.

Coffee, fruit juice, and rolls can be served prior to the opening of a morning news conference. Avoid trying to serve a luncheon or cocktails to reporters attending a news conference. They have deadlines and other assignments, they don't have time to socialize.

After the Conference

At the conclusion of the news conference the spokespeople should remain in the room and be available for any reporters who need one-on-one interviews. This can be done in a quiet corner or in a room adjacent to the site.

As the public relations person, you should be readily accessible during the remainder of the day in case reporters need more information or think of other questions as they prepare their stories. You should know where the spokespeople are during the day and how they can be reached, just in case a reporter needs to check a quote or get another.

Another duty is to contact reporters who expressed interest but were ultimately unable to attend. You can offer to send them the printed materials from the news conference and, if you have recorded the news conference, offer excerpts of videotape or sound bites. Another possibility is to arrange a one-on-one interview with one of the spokespeople.


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