Are Press Conferences Still Relevant? 4 Alternatives to Consider

By Katie Everett

The goal of hosting a press conference is to gain the attention of editors, reporters and photographers and communicate your company’s message regarding a new product or service. But, are they still relevant? Technology is replacing many of our necessary face-to-face interactions and press conferences are headed along the same route. Reporters frequently use technologies such as social media, video calls, conference calls, emails and more to learn and write stories.

Here are a few alternatives to consider when thinking about hosting a press conference:

Press Conference

A press conference is an instant way to connect with media. This method of media communication is generally used for big product/company launch announcements. But, are they worth the expense?

60% of invited attendees show up to an event. (source)

Cost: $$$ (PR agency to promote, room rental, light and sound fees, food and beverage service and more…)

Pros

  • Great face-to-face networking opportunities; attending reporters are most likely interested in your product, company vision and will write about the announcement.
  • Beneficial for companies with a cool product visual; Elon Musk is king of the automotive shock factor. For products like the Cyber Truck, these are best-announced in-person for all media and potential buyers to see (minus a couple busted windows!)

Cons:

  • In-person events are less successful due to the amount of time and effort needed from media to attend. In today’s digital world, reporters have the ability to gather information online or through a phone call. 
  • Be sure that you can fill the room; nothing looks worse than an empty room on a big announcement day.
  • It is also expensive for reporters to attend; time out of their day is time lost commuting when they could be writing stories.
  • Alert fatigue – if you are constantly producing news (that could be delivered in a pitch or briefing), media will stop showing up.
Are Press Conferences Still Relevant? 4 Alternatives to Consider 1

Webinar

Webinars are a great platform to host an interactive forum to present to media and participate in a Q&A session. 

73% of marketing and sales leaders say webinars are one of the best ways to generate quality leads. Reporters are leads too! (source)

Cost: $$ (varies by platform)

Pros

  • Wide reach – pending the quality of your contacts.
  • Recordable – repurpose the content by hosting the video on your website/YouTube channel.

Cons:

  • Unable to thoroughly gauge interest; although, how many people do you see on their phones or laptops answering emails at in-person events too?
  • The value of face-to-face networking is not available here. Consider how your lead generation funnel is set up; what will the reporters receive from you next to provide them with the best materials to write about you (e.g., product photos, data sheets, soundbites from the CEO, etc.)?

E-newsletter Blast

Organizations can accurately portray their message, vetting each word with careful thought and consideration. 

42% of users delete emails that don’t display correctly on their phones. (source)

Cost: $ (varies by platform, can be as low as $25/month)

Pros

  • Wide reach (pending the quality of your contacts).
  • Effective information sharing – reporters will read through and pull the relevant info quickly and efficiently.

Cons:

  • If too text-heavy, you may lose your audience. Consider investing in infographics and images that entice your audience. Consider partnering with an email marketing firm to ensure your message is well-delivered and renders correctly on all email platforms.

Media Tour

If your news is best delivered in person, consider going directly to the reporter! By partnering with a PR agency that is well connected in the business, their relationships with reporters will become your relationships too. 

In a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, nearly all respondents (95 percent) said face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. 

Cost: $$$ (flights, car rentals/rideshare services/hotels/meeting room, etc.)

Pros: 

  • Direct access – bring the conference directly to the reporters that you are excited to meet.
  • Beneficial for industries with smaller groups of reporters –  if the number of reporters that you want to meet is small, this might be your best option.
  • Piggy-back onto a large event (e.g., CES) – Media tours can be achieved with an event like Showstoppers before major events like CES or IFA. These are reporter-only events with the showcasing companies. These events are beneficial for new companies looking to make a splash.

Cons: 

  • Coverage is never guaranteed – As with any meeting, there is no guarantee that the reporters will show.
  • Exhausting for your team – Although these tours can be draining, when done right and with the right agency, your organization will be well connected and well covered.

Relevant content: 8 tips for making the most of a media tour

Offer an Exclusive to One Outlet

Double down on the top outlet that you would most like to see your organization covered in.

Of the 500 reporters surveyed, 42% reported receiving up to 100 pitches per day! (source)

Cost: $$ (the cost of a good PR firm)

Pros: 

  • Front page news – landing exclusive front page news in your industry’s top-tier publication can be worth its weight in gold. 
  • Ability to control the narrative – A one-on-one conversation can allow the reporter to ask in-depth questions and develop a relationship with your company. 

Cons:

  • There is no guarantee that the publication will cover your news. Hedge your bets by offering a deadline for the publication to commit to a story and then move on. However, when the announcement day comes, there is still not a guarantee that your news may get bumped for another pressing story.

Do you have a big announcement to share? Contact us here to discuss the best options for your product launch!

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