A press conference is one of the most important public relations tools. Public relations agencies and brand marketers have depended on it for decades to support marketing efforts. Some people may argue that there are no hard and fast rules to hosting a successful press conference but unlike everything else in Africa, it has its nuances and in this article, we will be focusing on how to organise a successful press conference in Africa.
Press conferences are very potent because it provides an opportunity for brands to pass their messages to the media directly, who then go-ahead to share this information with their audience. If done successfully, messages can gain more traction among the target audience, leading to improved sales or other expected outcomes.
Here is a checklist for organising a successful press conference in Africa:
1. Prepare a Media List: Since there is no press conference without the press, the first thing to do to organise a successful press conference in Africa is to prepare your media list. Even if it is a global press conference, where all types of media organisations are invited, you still need a list. However, chances are, it is for your brand.
Therefore, depending on the focus of your press conference, you may want to invite only journalists that are relevant to that cause. For example, if it is a product launch, you need to invite journalists based on the nature of the product. Is it a tech product, an unveiling of a new brand identity, a financial product, etc.? This determines if the reporters that will make up your media list will include tech reporters, brand or finance reporters.
2. Consider an Ideal Venue: Preparing the media list has helped you to determine the kind of media to invite to the press conference. So, what would you consider an ideal venue to host them? This is very important because the kind of venue you choose will determine the attendance level.
From just the venue alone, most journalists could easily decipher if it is worth their time and attention. If it is a finance product, you must ensure the venue is in an upscale location that is very conducive and suitable for the kind of market the product targets.
You do not want to host a media launch at a religious centre because they have a suitable space. That is not very business-like.
3. Consider Venue Branding and Brand Collaterals as Gifts: Once you have sorted out the venue, make sure to brand it appropriately to reflect the product or service for the press conference.
Whether it is a press conference organised by a brand or a political party or an NGO, you must make a conscious effort to brand the venue accordingly. Venue branding helps to add to the ambience of the press conference and creates an ideal location for photography. It goes a long way to help photo and TV journalists tell their stories better.
Also, make sure to produce branded collaterals such as t-shirts, calendars, notepads, power banks, ballpoint pens, or other branded gifts that you consider suitable for your brand. You will hand out these items to the journalists at the end of the press conference as a token of appreciation for honouring your invitation.
The branded collaterals will go beyond serving as tokens of appreciation; they will constantly serve as a reminder of your service to the journalist or whomever they may share the gifts with.
Also read, How To Discover Journalists In Africa
4. Send out Your Press Invitation Early: To organise a successful press conference in Africa, you must send out your invitation at least fourteen days ahead. This allows you to send at least two reminders before the due date.
Journalists are very busy and if you want your press conference to be well attended, you must send an invitation early. Call them on the phone to notify them and follow up every week. Makes sure to also send a reminder a day before your press conference, and call them on phone to extract some commitment.
Ask if they will attend by themselves or will be sending a representative. If they will be sending a representative, ask them for the contact details of the representative, follow up with them and apprise them of all the necessary information about the press conference as well as venue information and details of the contact person for the press conference.
Do not send out a press invitation and relax, hoping that all the journalists you have invited will show up. You have no idea how many press invitations they have received for that same day.
5. Make Arrangements for Honorarium: A successful press conference in Africa is near impossible without an honorarium. Unlike in advanced countries, you cannot just send out press invitations to media houses and expect that they will send down their reporters to cover your event. In Africa, the brand has to cover transportation costs.
Whether you call this brown or yellow envelope matters not but you must arrange this for each journalist that you invite to your press conference.
In fact, if you want a punctual attendance, you must inform the journalists ahead you shall cover their transportation unless you have an existing relationship with them and they already know you for this.
Make sure to offer a uniform honorarium. Any discrepancy in the amount will lead to resentment and may lead to a reputation crisis as most journalists in Africa want to be treated fairly among peers. Therefore, do not be tempted to hand out different sizes of honorariums to journalists from different media houses based on their influence. If you must do this, do so discreetly.
6. Get Press Kit Ready: Assuming you are doing this for the first time, you should endeavour to have some information about the press conference, the company, and the team. A press kit also includes other relevant items such as photos and press releases ready in one place for each journalist. You may include this in the gift pack that you hand out at the end or send it electronically.
The press kit helps journalists to write a well-informed story about your brand. In fact, many of them will be calling you immediately after the press conference to ask for that information, so it is in your best interest to keep them handy in a press kit and give it to them at the end of your event. You may also send the press kits electronically.
7. Leverage Press Conference Management Software: Today, there are technology tools that help brands organise successful press conferences in Africa. One of such tools is the SquirrelPR press event manager.
The SquirrelPR press event manager is an end-to-end media event management software that helps PR agencies and marketing communications professionals organise successful media events at scale.
On SquirrelPR press events manager, you can send press invites and monitor responses in real-time so that you will know how many journalists will be attending your event. It also allows you to send reminders, thereby increasing the chances of attendance.
As an organiser, you can also check in journalists as they arrive and check them out at the end of the press conference to forestall the entry of uninvited media representatives.
What is more? The SquirrelPR press event manager allows you to send your press kits to the journalists at the end of the press conference, allowing all the journalists to receive personalised press kits in their emails at the close of the event. The platform even allows you to receive feedback on your press conference from the journalists to help you improve on your subsequent events.
8. Monitor Your Publications: As part of your post-mortem, following your successful press conference, you must now begin to monitor the output from your media event. Some of the journalists, depending on your level of relationship, may notify you when they publish, but do not expect all of them to do so. You may choose to search the web every morning to check for new publications or engage a media-monitoring agency to help you collate the publications so that you can determine the true success of your press conference.