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Friday, November 9, 2012

News conferences for newbies

Yesterday, I helped put on my very first news conference. And it was great.

It was a fictional scenario for a school project, but we treated it like the real deal. My group and I put together a stellar media kit, came up with a concept for the conference itself, and timed everything out perfectly.

Is this thing on? [Picture from mcmurraymusings.com]


It went amazingly well, and when it was all said and done, all the blood, sweat, and tears we'd put into it were worthwhile.

It was also a great learning experience. Here are the top four lessons I've taken away from putting on a news conference:

1. The media's primary concern is getting a story.
For the purposes of this project, the media covering our story were the journalism and media production students from my school program. When they came into the studio to start setting up for the conference, it was very clear they were there for one thing and one thing only: getting a story, and getting it quick.

Journalists are busy people, and it's great if you've created a beautiful set-up complete with refreshments and decorations, but their primary objective is setting up their camera equipment then getting out of there as soon as possible to write and edit their stories.

2. Technical difficulties happen to the best of us.
I believe that technology is inherently evil and out to destroy mankind. That's why microphones don't work when we need them to, or the video cuts out at the prime moment. It's not our fault, it's the robot revolution taking over. And we can't blame ourselves if these things go down during a news conference, and it's certainly not going to make the news if your mike didn't work. The media are there to get a story, and a faulty mike is hardly a scoop.

3. There's no I in team.
I love cliches. This one speaks for itself, really - this was a major group project and couldn't have happened without everyone getting along. I was lucky to have been put in a wonderful group where everyone got along and contributed. Some people take the lead, and others follow directions. As long as everyone knows their role and is open to suggestions and directions, everything will be a breeze.

My lovely team of PR superstars. Photo courtesy of Amy Tuckett.


And last but certainly not least...

4. Know your key messages!
After your announcement is over, it's the media's turn to grill you for answers. You have to know your key messages like the back of your hand before they have a chance to stump you. And they will always, always ask you something you didn't prepare for - but you can always, always answer in a way that communicates the positivity of your announcement. Whenever I was stumped, I would take a short pause, address the journalist's question, but tie it up in a way that reiterated my key messages. I hope I pulled it off okay...!

And there you have it. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought I had it in me to take part in something like this. It's a testament to the Creative Communications program, my instructors, and my classmates that I was able to accomplish something I never expected to be capable of.

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