When I was in the Girl Guides, the motto was ‘be prepared’.
It’s a pretty good one if you’re contemplating any media ‘encounter’ – particularly a press conference.
This week, we ran a rehearsal for a press conference that a group of senior executives will be taking part in next month.
The idea was that they would discuss – and agree on – the key points they needed to make during the conference, then rehearse them in a realistic setting with a team of three journalists firing questions at them.
We put them under quite a bit of pressure – probably far more than they’ll face in reality – and a few key points emerged which I thought it was worth sharing with you.
- You must prepare your key points and articulate them clearly and early
- It is vital to all ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’ – thrash out any contentious areas in advance and agree on the stance of your organisation. Divisions on the panel are not good
- Prepare you response to any difficult questions which might crop up.
- If a killer question comes up which hasn’t been prepared for, stay calm, don’t look shocked, take a few moments to think about your response, acknowledge it and aim to move onto positive points as soon as possible
- If there is a tricky point which you can’t answer or refuse to answer, a journalist will push and push and push you to respond. If you respond quickly it will close down a prolonged and damaging debate
- Do not rise to the bait – don’t get annoyed with the journalists whatever they ask
- Be careful not to say too much and open up the press conference to areas you would rather not discuss If you’re doing the press conference because your organisation or company has made a mistake make sure you apologise – sincerely and move onto the steps your are taking to rectify the problem
- Body language is important. Everyone’s demeanour must remain positive – look as if you want to be there. And be aware of your facial expressions and body language when other members of the panel are speaking
If you’d like more help on how to handle a press conference, or you would like a rehearsal, then do contact us via our website, or call 020 8332 6200.