PR Tips: News Conference Best Practices
February 19, 2015
During the legislative session, we work with several clients who seek media exposure for their cause. This week we assisted the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Texas Access to Justice Commission in hosting a news conference at the Texas State Capitol to emphasize the ongoing funding crisis in the Texas legal aid system.
Currently, 5.6 million Texans qualify for legal aid for help with issues such as benefits for veterans, health care for the elderly, domestic violence and foreclosures. Due to a lack of resources, only about 20 percent of the civil legal needs of eligible Texans are currently being met.
At the press conference, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht and legislators announced legislative plans to address the funding crisis.
Although the Speaker’s Committee Room was full of reporters, there was a significant amount of preparation to ensure that those reporters would be receptive to our pitch. Strong relationships with media, as well as the following, were key in securing media coverage for our client.
- Build a Sense of Teamwork – At ECPR, we are strong believers in supportive teams that fit together in terms of strengths and experience. You may have a member with great writing skills and another team member who is stronger at pitching. This combination helps the team carry out tasks in an efficient manner.
- Plan Ahead – We drafted social media messaging before the event. We had tweets ready to send from the press conference. We took photos at the event and sent them along with the pre-written tweets. This not only saves times, but also leaves less room for error. (Think checking for twitter handles, greeting reporters, taking photos and notes, etc.)
- Have Deliverables Ready – As soon as reporters arrived at the press conference, we gave them media kits. We also had an ECPR team member take photos with a professional camera so we could send hi-res photos to reporters after the event. We offered these photos along with the post release to reporters who were unable to attend the press conference.
- Be Flexible – Reporters are juggling multiple stories and deadlines. We make sure to get them what they need when they need it. A TV outlet was late to the press conference, but we secured an interview for them on the spot. As soon as we returned to the office, we sent them photos from the portion of the conference that they missed.
Last but not least, remember to have fun. I always get a smile on my face when I see the results of persistence and effective strategy execution. There’s nothing like seeing your client happy, a room full of videographers, photographers and reporters, and being a part of the team that helps get much needed legislation passed.
Senior Account Executive