Traditionally press conferences have been a useful tool to disseminate strategic information, background information to companies/new companies, present key spokespersons to the media, ensure key messages are clearly communicated or communicate something of urgency and importance. A press conference had many reasons – introducing a new product, revealing a new scientific breakthrough, unveiling a new advertising campaign, announcing a charity event with a celebrity or releasing company financial statements. In the past media loved press conferences, since they gathered information, got an opportunity to meet senior management, interact with brand ambassadors and all in all get an in depth preview into the company, product, launch, strategy, marketing message or key understanding about a company, institution, product or issue. But in today’s environment things have changed. Media may not always have time for a press conference. Or more so, while they may have time for it, they would rather have an exclusive angle, a unique connect with the client, a one-on-one interaction. Unless your topic is of great importance, a national issue where you are making a statement, or you are a celebrity star making a statement, or launching the worlds first sub 1000 dollar car, chances are the media will not make the effort to come to your press conference. Not because they do not want your news; but because they would get your information and news anyways. They are certain, that if they are a media house of importance, the PR agency will approach them with the requisite material anyways. And besides, there are a plethora of information sources today, for the media to not want to move from their chair.
So what should companies and clients do – have a press conference and go for the big announcement or stay silent or make the effort to meet each media personnel on a one on one basis. In my practice as a PR practitioner, my common advise to clients is not to have press conferences as a rule, but take the one-on-one route. Get to know the relevant media personnel in your category and industry, spend time with them, become a part of their life, build a relationship of mutual value, trust and respect. This strategy may not result in immediate results or coverage, but sets the plank for some significant long-term gains. While it is a slower approach, it a surer one for success. Way too often clients are looking for short-term gains with the media, at the expense of their long-term relationship, brand value and goals. Good public relations is of strategic importance and requires a vision with a long-term approach.