Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Holding a Media Conference or Media Event Part 1

Holding a Media Conference or Media Event Part 1

When your group has a major announcement (an appeal, event or membership drive), success or achievement in your field you want to make sure as many people as possible hear about it.

Sometimes direct contact with the media or a general media release can do the job. But what about something really significant, when your group wants to do more, or say more, to attract the media's attention?

That's where staging a media conference or media event can be most effective.

A conference or event can attract better media coverage for a number of reasons – the colour and action, vibrancy, the person speaking or, for some, even the fact a media conference is being held is news enough.

Holding a press conference can also be a time-effective way of getting the message out to all interested media at the one time.  

Organising and then staging a successful media conference or event requires planning, organisation and notice. So before you decide that this is the way you want to go, here are a few things you need to think about.

Step 1 - Do you need a media conference or event?

With the time, effort and maybe expense that goes into organising a media event or conference you don't want to be wasting your group's hard-earned money on staging one if it is not needed.

Firstly, be realistic and ask yourselves if you need an event like this.

Media events by definition are exactly that - events. If your group holds one with nothing important or newsworthy to say, it will be viewed as a "non-event" and the media will quickly conclude that it's a waste of time attending any such event in the future.

For small announcements and on-going issues your group can build a solid an effective media campaign by using media releases followed by a phone call and being available for interview opportunities.

However, if you do have something to shout about - don't be shy, organise an event.

Step 2 - What to think about if staging an event

If your group has decided to stage a media conference or event there are six simple but important points that you should use as guidance in organising, promoting and structuring it.

Ask these questions:

1 - What message or information do you want the media event to convey?
  • Without a clear message your media event threatens to be directionless and without a focus.
  • The key message you wish to convey should guide your event, form the structure and shape of any media information you prepare and the interviews you give on the day.

2 - Where should the event be held?
  • Location, location, location – think about it and other factors including:
  • Easy to get to and easy to access.  It's no use staging an event if people get lost or can't get in.
  • Size, particularly for an indoor venue, is important.
  • Facilities.
    • Does the venue have everything you need?
    • A lectern or microphones?
    • Display area?
    • Access to PowerPoint or other software?
  • Weather – an event outdoors in the middle of winter or at the height of summer is a bit risky and could put off some media representatives.
  • Photo opportunities – make sure your event is in a location where interesting photos of your members or group project can be taken.
  • Colour and movement – a venue can provide an atmosphere that emphasises or adds to your announcement and make for interesting photo or footage opportunities.

3 – When should it be held?
  • Make sure the event is held at a time and day that suits the deadlines of the media that you are hoping to attract.
  • Avoid scheduling it on a deadline day, particularly for your local suburban newspaper.  
  • Try to hold the event during normal working hours.
  • Make sure any group members, volunteers, donors, supporters, helpers or staffs from your organisation are available on the day and time you choose for the event.
  • Finally, try to make sure it doesn't clash with another event that will pull the media away.

4 - Who should be at the event?
  • Firstly, decide which type of media your group wishes to invite to the event.
    • Make sure you alert your targeted media by phone, fax or email beforehand.
  • Decide who are the most relevant people to invite:
    • Those linked to your group or organisations, such as members, donors' volunteers, patrons, helpers and supporters.
    • Relevant VIPs.
    • Relevant politicians.
    • Business and community leaders.
    • Celebrities or other special guests – if appropriate and relevant.

5 – How to get the message out about the event and follow up afterwards?
  • Issuing media alerts before the event is the best way to tell the media about what is planned, while issuing invitations to guests and other people helps inform them of what is going on.
  • Be willing to be involved in follow-up interviews after the event to expand on or clarify any details your media event may have raised.
  • Also allow any media unable to attend to still "get the story."
  • Following up with the media afterwards could involve sending a post-event release or information pack.

6 – How long should the event last?
  • Ideally speaking, your event should be as long as it takes to get your message across. It's better to have a short conference with a clear concise message than drawn-out affair leaving people wondering what the point was.
  • Look at limiting your media event to a short period of time, but in doing so make time for interviews, questions and "meeting and greeting" guests.
  • The media is who this event is directed at and they will appreciate you getting through your announcements and question time reasonably quickly.  This allows for them to return to their offices and file their stories if they need to.
The second part of this help sheet, available by Clicking Here, goes into more detail about some of the key elements in ensuring your group's media event or conference is as effective and well-attended as it can be.

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