Archive for February, 2010

The Art of the Press Conference

February 26, 2010

Over the past two weeks there have been several press conferences that have drawn national, and in some cases international, attention.  Though there seem to be fewer press conferences called by companies than when I first started in PR, they still do exist.

Typically sensationalized or tragic news bring in larger audiences for media – so with that comes more questions and interest from media outlets to the parties involved.  The easiest way to disseminate information to the press? Gather them in one spot and talk to them.

In most cases, the talking heads of companies have been formally coached by their publicists to stay on message, communicate the prepared remarks clearly, and manage the questions/audience. For those who do not have to speak publicly or at press conferences often, this can be daunting.

I watched the SeaWorld press conference today with great interest.  Here is a really unfortunate situation that happened and now a well-respected company has to jump into crisis pr mode.  At the top of the conference, the press is told what the flow will be, how to obtain the written information and who will be available for one-to-one interviews post event.

And then Dan Brown, CEO of SeaWorld began to speak.  He made a brief statement and read prepared remarks from the victim’s family, and then opened it up to questions. Questions from the press ranged from soft balls (when would various attractions re-open?), to very pointed questions that were asked repeatedly in a variety of ways (is this same whale has apparently killed three other people?). Brown managed the questions well.  He answered each question, and for those that he was unable to discuss he stated that he would not comment on until after an investigation was complete.  His message was consistent and clear.

Of course, there are others in the media and the general public that think this event was a disaster.  But, purely from a pr perspective, it was a success: 1.  SeaWorld communicated their message clearly and, 2.  They have now set the stage for communicating out their findings after the investigation.

Kudos to SeaWorld and their PR team for handling a tough situation with grace and professionalism.

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South By

February 26, 2010

I am headed to Austin for SXSW in two short weeks. When talking to a client and friend who is also attending, I was corrected and told that “people in the know do not call it South by Southwest, rather South By.”

Ok. Clearly I have a lot to learn, this being my first time to South By, and not just about what to call the event!

Here’s what I am scheduled to do (scheduled to change without notice and often!). In addition I will be part of the PR and media focused Tweetup with Sarah Evans and PitchEngine’s Jason Kintzler. I am really excited to hear many a social media rock stars speak and share what they have learned, but my real interest in going is network with others who do what I do and learn from them.

If you are going, drop me a line or connect with me on Twitter. If you have been to “South by” before and can share some tips – bring it! I’ll be sure to post a blog upon my return about the trip highlights.