Press conferences should be beneficial to all parties involved. As a public relations intern at Crime Stoppers of Michigan, my duty was to set up bi-weekly press conferences with the intention of highlighting an unsolved crime. I was responsible for creating a press release, submitting a press conference announcement and developing talking points. I also served as the direct contact for those who attended, including media and the family of the victim.
Crime Stoppers hold press conferences for a few reasons: to generate awareness about an unsolved crime, provide an opportunity for the victim’s family to speak, and to direct callers to the organization’s anonymous tip line. The tips received by Crime Stoppers are very useful and help law enforcement with their investigations.
For Crime Stoppers, it is imperative that the family of the victim have an opportunity to speak. The media is often very interested in hearing their story because they provide a personal and often emotional angle, adding depth to the raw facts surrounding a crime. It‘s also important to have an officer present that has worked on that particular case, so they can provide details and updates about the investigation. If an officer is not able to attend, arrangements are made to have the Public Information Officer (P.I.O.) speak on their behalf.
One of the most important parts of holding a press conference is to make sure you have an audience. Sometimes it is a struggle to confirm all of the people you wish to attend. You might make all of the arrangements to hold a press conference, but due to the nature of the profession, some journalists have to cancel because something else comes up. That’s the thing about press conferences — you have to be ready for anything!
- You must have a newsworthy topic to have a press conference!
- Make sure that the date and time does not interfere with any other important event that will take precedence.
- Send out the press release and the press conference announcement 24 hours prior to the start time.
- Follow up with media and other guests by phone to confirm attendance.
- Create and edit talking points for each person speaking. Make sure they review prior to the event.
- Know the names and titles of who will be speaking and in what order they will speak.
- Hold the press conference in a place that is visually satisfying and has enough space for TV cameras and seating.
- Have extra press releases and other media friendly materials on site.
- If available, have water or coffee for guests.