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Section 8. Arranging a Press Conference

___You understand that a press conference is a tool designed to generate news -- in particular, hard news that can advance the cause of your organization.

You understand the following reasons you might want to hold a press conference:

___You can give more information than in a press release.

___At a press conference, you can answer questions the press may have.

___You can announce something unprecedented, which has significant local implications.

___You can set the record straight if your group received negative publicity.

___When many media representatives are present, it makes your conference seem really newsworthy.

___A successful media conference can not only generate news, but can also boost the morale of your own group.

You understand that you might want to call a press conference in the following cases:

___When the event includes a prominent individual to whom the media should have access.

___When you have significant announcements to make, such as opening a campaign or reporting a lobbying victory.

___When there is an emergency or crisis centered around your group or the issues it deals with.

___When a number of groups are participating in an action, and the show of support will emphasize that this action is news.

___When you want to react to a related event; for example, a national report relevant to your own issue is released.

Before the press conference, you have:

___Started planning at least a week or two before the press conference is to take place.

Planning steps -- you have:

___Defined the issue and key messages that you and your group are trying to get out to the community.

___Determined a date and time for the press conference, and made sure it doesn't conflict with other press events or media deadlines.

___Followed other tips for press conferences, such as scheduling the conference for a slower news day, scheduled your press conference is between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

___Picked a location for the press conference that has adequate parking, is not too far away for reporters to travel, and provides visual interest and relationship to each topic.

___Selected and trained participants who will be knowledgeable and articulate about the issue, who have high credibility, and, if possible, people from the community affected by the issue.

___Found a moderator who is experienced with the press and the issue. He or she will be in charge of convening the press conference by introducing the issue and participants. The moderator also answers questions or directs them to the appropriate participants.

___Attended at least one other press conference to get a feeling for what they are like.

___Conducted a dress rehearsal.

___Created a comprehensive mailing list of assignment editors at television stations, news directors at radio stations, and at major newspapers, and editors at weekly newspapers.

___Had a press advisory prepared and mailed about one week ahead of time to inform the media about the press conference.

___Followed up your press advisory after three days with phone contact to the major media outlets.

___Followed up a second time the morning of the press conference.

___Developed a press kit, if your group can afford it; or, if a press kit is beyond your budget, a press advisory.

___Checked the location of electrical outlets for microphones and lights in the room where the press conference will be held.

___Set up a table long enough to seat all your spokespeople, with name cards.

___Provided enough seating in the room for reporters and their supporting equipment.

___Displayed visuals as a backdrop to your speaker's table: charts, posters, etc.

___Set up a sign-in pad for attendance.

___Provided a podium for the moderator.

___Had coffee, tea, and water set up for the press conference.

Your press kit contains the following:

___A list of press conference participants.

___A press release, which should state your group's position on the issue, highlights the press conference, and a few quotes from participants.

___Background information about the issue.

___A few black & white glossy photographs.

___Short biographies of participants.

___Related news stories from prestigious national publications.

At the press conference:

___Welcome members of the press as they arrive.

___Have members of the press sign in, with their affiliation, and give each of them a press kit.

___Seat the press conference participants behind the table facing the seated reporters.

___Check the sign in pad to see which media outlets are represented. You may also want to make personal contact with major media representatives before or after the press conference.

___Start approximately on time--no later than 5 minutes after the scheduled time.

___Tape record the event, for your own records, and for possible media use.

___Have the moderator welcome the press, and introduce the issue and participants.

___Each participant should present for no more than 3-5 minutes, making his/her 3-5 key points.

___After all the presentations, the moderator should entertain any questions from the press, and direct questions to the appropriate participants.

___After about 45 minutes, bring the formal conference to an end. Thank the participants for presenting, and the media for attending.

After the press conference:

___You understand that not everyone may arrive, as your conference may be preempted by some late breaking news story elsewhere.

___You may want to hand deliver a press release and press packet to these people, send a tape feed, or, try to schedule an interview with a reporter and one of the press conference participants.