A press conference is a perfect venue for anyone looking to leverage their brand. Since you’ll be addressing the media, you have the opportunity to reach an audience far wider than before. If you want to drum up anticipation over a new product or encourage people to attend an event you’re organizing, a press conference is the best way to promote your plans.
To get the best mileage, your press conference should be led by a speaker who knows their material well and remains unfazed by a difficult question. As public speaking expert Lisa B. Marshall puts it, “if you get it wrong, you’ll end up with negative coverage or no coverage at all.” Follow these tips to make sure your talking points are clear, effective, and memorable:
1. Figure out your core message
What do you want people to remember? What message do you ultimately want to be covered and delivered by the press? As you would in any presentation, prepare your talking points by identifying your goals first. Figure out the core message you want publicized and promoted, then use it as a guide to outline the rest of your speech. Marshall suggests that you stick with something that’s “newsworthy and consistent with your brand.”
For a press conference announcing an upcoming lecture, your goal may be to introduce the topic of the lecture and the recognized speakers who will participate. For a company announcement, stick to one topic that will grab your target audience’s attention. If you’re announcing a new product or web application, focus on what’s new and why your audience will want it rather than re-hashing old products or past mistakes.
Everything you bring up during the press conference should contribute to the core message you’re trying to deliver. If that’s “we have an exciting new product coming out in the market soon,” make sure everything you say will allow the audience to see why that’s true and important for them. Following our example, you could give them an overview of the product, including a short discussion of its features.
2. Turn your message into a story
With your points laid out, it’s time to turn your speech into an engaging narrative. You won’t go far it all you have planned is to read out a list of, say, the technology used in your web app. No matter how innovative your new product is, you’ll have to create a connection using a technique known to work for any type of audience. As Marshall puts it,
Create the story you want to tell. It may be a customer story that explains the need for the product or service you offer. It may be a story of someone whose life has changed as a result of your work. Make it personal and relatable.
3. Integrate brand identity
To take your story further, it’s also important to include elements of your brand identity. Particularly, Marshall suggests making use of adjectives that you often use to describe your brand.
For an example, she cites how Apple commonly uses words like “innovative” and “next generation” whenever they announce or launch a new product. As you work on your talking points, think back to your brand story and make it a prominent point throughout the press conference.
4. Anticipate questions that might be asked
After you’ve perfected your speech, there’s one more thing you have to prepare for—answering the questions thrown at you by the press. Think of the questions they’ll likely ask and start practicing how to answer them. As always, make sure all your answers drive home your main message.
Keep referring back to your main point and your brand identity. If you can, try to have someone else from your team come up with their own set of questions. This will give you an opportunity to expound on points you might not have thought were particularly relevant.
5. Brace yourself for difficult questions
Regardless of all your preparation, there are things you won’t be able to control or predict. It won’t be unlikely that you’ll get a few questions that are difficult to handle. They could simply be about a topic you weren’t prepared to discuss, or they might even be hostile. Regardless of the situation, you have to maintain your composure throughout. Marshall suggests learning “bridging”:
You never want to evade questions, but you do have the flexibility to rephrase or modify questions and to answer them in a positive, confident manner. Your responses may, or may not, briefly address the question asked before bridging to your prepared message.
A press conference can easily be a success after some preparation. Craft your talking points carefully to ensure your message is delivered to the audience you want to reach.
Marshall, Lisa. “10 Tips for Dynamic Press Conferences.” Quick and Dirty Tips. Accessed September 18, 2014.