Absolutely! Press conferences are should be reserved for major announcements. If you hold a press conference for something that isn't truly newsworthy, you risk incurring the wrath of a roomful of journalists – the same people your company's PR campaign is hoping to impress.
The rule of thumb is that you should never hold a press conference if you can accomplish the same result with a press release or a media pitch. Instead of dragging reporters out for a special event, it makes more sense to give them the information they need and contact them on an individual basis.
However, there are certain circumstances that practically mandate a press conference, especially if the scope of the announcement warrants it or if there is a need for a Q&A session with reporters. Specifically, here are a few of the business events that might call for a press conference or media event:
- A new product. The release of a new product or line of products could be a reason to hold a press conference, but only if the new products are truly innovative and affect a substantial number of people. If it's feasible, you might want to give reporters a sample of the new product so they can experience its benefits firsthand.
- A community benefit. If your company is sponsoring a major event that has a community benefit (e.g. a large charity concert featuring a recognized artist) a press conference may be an appropriate venue for answering reporters' questions in a single gathering, particularly if you can hold it in conjunction with a recognized charity.
- Groundbreaking achievements. Major contract awards, impressive partnerships, and other milestones can also be fodder for a press conference, provided they are of interest to the general public. Remember, reporters are looking for story ideas with the widest possible appeal. If your achievement isn't interesting to ordinary people, it won't be worth the reporters' time.
- Negative press. Most people associate press conferences with damage control. If your company has made news for all the wrong reasons, a press conference could be a great way to turn things around. If you are unfortunate enough to be the guy at the podium, go into the press conference prepared to answer the tough questions directly and accurately.