As a public relations firm, we get asked to do a lot of press conferences. A lot of press conference. Our usual answer, though, is why? Ninety percent of the time a press conference is waste of time for everyone involved – the media, the client and the public relations firm.
Yet, they serve a somewhat essential purpose in getting information out there. Here the five kinds of categories most press conferences fall into.
- The Have To: This is the press conference that must be done because people have questions and it will take too much time to answer all of them over and over again. A perfect example of this is whenever a college football coach officially announces he is resigning as head football coach. This is the “have to” to end all have to press conferences. The greatest maybe from a few years back when Steve Spurrier left the University of South Carolina. He started his remarks with the immortal, “let’s get this over with.”
- The Make-Believe: This is the television drama trope. A room full of reporters armed with cameras. Each one of them has amazing hair. Each asks shrewd questions, which the person at the microphone dodges with ease and fires back with a dagger that gets the press laughing. And then the magic genie appears. Ok, the last part doesn’t happen, but a lot of people feel anything less than that situation at their press conference for the school bake sale is a failure of Hindenberg type proportions.
- The Everyone Speaks, but Says Nothing: This is a favorite of many public relations firms. Get 10 people shuffling to the podium like cattle to talk for 30 minutes and say absolutely nothing of value until the last 30 seconds. It is kind of like listening to a Nicki Minaj album in that respect. Save the something of value part.
- The Photo Op: This is the press conference where people arrive to get their picture made doing something like shoveling dirt, blowing up a building or cutting a ribbon. The speaking part is fluff. The cameras are here to rule the day and rule they will. So, make their job easy and give them something good to shoot.
- The Late-Bloomer: The event starts at noon, but the actual speaking part doesn’t start to 12:30? Did you tell the media noon? Are you now wondering why they are giving you dirty looks? That’s because you told them to show up for something that they have no use for whatsoever.