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Are you calling a press conference? Consider the following

Are you calling a press conference? Consider the following

By Ilke Platt and Lazarus Amukeshe

A crisis, no matter how grandeur or minimal where public concern is involved should always happen, and as timely as possible – this will help clear rumors and aspersions that the uninformed tend casting.

Being proactive does not only safeguard a brand’s image but will restore the brand’s confidence and even advance it in a manner that proves the company is responsible. Any public relations practitioner (PRP) would agree that when a crisis hits an organization, a press conference is the most difficult event to host. For well-known organizations nationally, or regionally – the media will reach out as soon as such is in the public eye. Choosing to ignore media requests is often damaging and should be avoided at all times. So, how should a PRP best prepare and what can
we learn from various press conferences?

Firstly, a press conference is a platform to facilitate a press briefing or a news conference to keep the media informed about the latest happenings which revolve around public interest. Hosting a press conference in various scenarios can give us an indication of the importance thereof as well as the potential risk or further reputational damage to your organization.

A press conference is one of the most effective ways to communicate with the media and draw their attention. It is an opportunity to get their side of the story across multiple media platforms. When deciding whether or not to host a press conference when in a crisis, you should only hold a press conference if it is timely, can set the record straight, and once you have a suitable team to facilitate. A press conference can have many advantages and disadvantages, given the scope of its organization and the speakers involved. When hosting a one in a crisis,
there is always a potential risk of adding more fuel to the fire.

Despite that potential risk, there are a few advantages that can flow from such, such as disseminating information to all reporters or journalists in one place simultaneously. It ensures maximum impact for the information or announcement made, even if it may be setting the record straight for an inaccurate media headline or the outcry from public interest.

On the other hand, in times of crisis, a press conference requires planning, factual information to be shared with journalists, and conviction to readers and listeners that have already concluded their assumptions based on the news that they’ve already received. If an organization does not have the right team members to facilitate or be on the panel at the press conference, the initial intent could turn out more damaging and can lead to further speculation.
In addition, a press conference should involve two important players which include the speaker/s and the moderator. The speaker represents a business or company at a press conference. They deliver the message, announce the news, and answer journalists’ questions, so you need to choose them wisely. Regardless of whether the speaker is a senior member or intimately familiar with the company, they must study and train for the event.

Your speaker (s) should prepare and share the key points during the press conference and not lose focus on the specific topic. Be wise not to derail from the topic that needs to be addressed, which should be made clear and understandable. The person speaking on behalf of your company must be aware of potential media scrutiny and hostility when dealing with a sensitive subject.

In the media landscape, online media during press conferences have added public opinion and the ability to steer perception in any direction if topics are not addressed closely. Furthermore; when hosting a press conference in crisis mode, every PRP and its organization should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Journalists can make their conclusion on the facts stipulated and can analyze even further to position their understanding of the information provided. Press conferences should improve your public image, not damage it. Preparation is key to representing your company.

In preparation, a press statement should accompany the proceedings to further state on the record the
company’s position. The prepared statement should also contain the main themes you should reinforce during the conference. Every PRP should keep the top three (3) stages in mind which are as follows. What message do you want to convey during the press conference? What announcement do you want to make? What issues is your company looking to address that are critical to be addressed?

In conclusion, don’t put more fuel into the fire. This is a statement that should be asked when considering a press conference or not after a negative headline has surfaced on all media platforms. Press conferences can be used to defend a company’s image and clarify issues that have been misunderstood or placed out of context; however, never allow your organization to further sink into quicksand and allow it to be more vulnerable. Ask yourself whether the press conference will add more fuel to the fire, whether you have competent representative/s to answer
hard questions from journalists and lastly; remember that online comments will always remain as long as there is a new story to feast on.

It is still at the discretion of the company to issue only a press statement and still allow public scrutiny after publication and allow the next wave to hit, or better yet prevent the same situation from happening proactively.


About The Author

Guest Contributor

A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.

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