Seven Tips for a Successful Press Event

They’re showing up everyday on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter: videos of screaming, angry politicians, shoving and threatening reporters. Seems many in the political arena have forgotten how to act these days.

Media is changing; not only are there the huge conglomerates and the large local concerns, but smaller, more granular media: the bloggers, the “hyperlocal” sites like Patch.com, and more. Even if they aren’t big names, or embroiled in the political arena, increasingly people are finding themselves representing their organization — or even their family — in front of the media. Even if your event isn’t televised on a national scale, you can bet there will be someone there who will capture every moment of your announcement, as soon as you leave the comfort of your private space.

A press conference can be an easy way to get your news out, but it has to be strategic and well-organized. If you want the press and your fans to come out and hear what you have to say, make sure you have solid, “new” news to share with them.

Here are seven simple — yet easily forgotten – little nuggets to follow for anyone hosting a press conference or press event.

1. Keep a list of accomplishments and make sure it’s updated frequently. Things happen so quickly that you may forget everything you’ve achieved.

2. With that in mind, tell the truth—ALWAYS. And be honest and accurate. Your credibility and reputation depend on it.

3. Admit if you don’t know the answer to a question. Offer to find the answer, and then follow up as quickly as you can. If you’re answering reporters’ questions, remember they are on deadline! Do your best to get the information people want even if it means putting in extra effort, like staying late or hand-delivering material.

4. Don’t use “No Comment” as a comment. EVER.

5. Don’t be unresponsive. Be as open and candid as you can with reporters and your supporters.

6. Once a story is published and out there for all to see, it’s nearly impossible to get it retracted. So if you are misquoted or if misinformation is given, act promptly. Speak to whoever wrote the piece. But be warned — if retracting the statement will bring more harm than good, at the very least, just call and set the record straight. Refrain from making threats. Expect that everything you say in correcting the mistake will be on record. If talking to the reporter or blogger doesn’t get you anywhere, go to his or her editor or add a respectable and fact-infused comment to his or her blog/Web site.

7. Have a sense of humor  . . . and have fun. Expect the unexpected and roll with it. The more relaxed you are, the easier your press event. But please, no crazy yells or fanatic outbursts.

Alisa Reynoso is a freelance writer and serves on the communications team for the Senate President of Illinois. She has more than 15 years of experience in public relations and marketing, and is a managing partner for Little Marco Polo, a Web domain registration and hosting company based in Chicago.

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