What Is a Press Conference? Definition and Why They're Held

What Is a Press Conference?

A press conference is an event organized to officially distribute information and answer questions from the media. Press conferences are also announced in response to specific public relations issues.

Corporate press conferences are generally led by the company's executive management, press liaison, or communications officer. Given limited resources, particularly during a time of quarterly or annual earnings, it may be difficult to attract major media attention unless a company has a truly unique or newsworthy announcement to share.

Press conferences are held by corporations and other businesses, politicians, and other government officials.

Key Takeaways

  • Press conferences are events where information is distributed and where the media can ask questions.
  • These events are held to respond to positive and negative news, for product launches, or to inform the media and public about any other information about a company.
  • Most press conferences are announced through a press release, which is a well-crafted written statement outlining the nature of the conference.
  • Press conferences are usually conducted by a company's executive management, press liaison, or communications officer.
  • Lesser-known companies can hold press conferences to increase brand awareness while established companies can share news in the most positive light and increase their stature.

Understanding a Press Conference

Press conferences are held by companies or individuals and are attended by the media. During the event, one or more speakers may address those attending. Reporters may then be able to ask questions.

Before a press conference takes place, a company may issue a press release, outlining the nature of the event. At times, these are issued well in advance of the conference.

A company has the opportunity to present a news story in its most favorable light by inviting the press to special events. In other cases, lesser-known companies may want to increase their stature in the media by making it easier for news agencies to cover company events.

By gaining favorable media exposure, companies are able to gain greater brand recognition and authority in the market, usually at a much lower cost than would be required for a widespread advertising campaign.

Press conferences are also called news conferences. When there is no official statement or no questions allowed, the event is called a photo op.

Why Hold a Press Conference?

There are many reasons why companies choose to hold press conferences. They may be called to do any of the following:

  • Respond to earnings, other news, or controversies
  • Announce the departure or addition of a new executive
  • Unveil a new production facility
  • Announce the release of a new product or a merger or acquisition

Of course, these are just some of the instances when a company may call a conference. In some cases, companies may time their press conferences before any news breaks. This can be beneficial to get ahead of any negative news to portray the company in an honest and truthful light as opposed to a company that was trying to hide the negative news.

Things to Consider Before the Press Conference

Before holding the press conference—or presser as they're known to journalists—there are a few key points a company will consider.

First, is the press release. In addition to announcing the conference, the release should be well crafted. It should be clear, concise, and to the point. But it should also address the issue at hand, whether that's a positive announcement like a product launch, or in response to negative news or controversy.

The follow up after the press conference is just as important, so any queries that are answered after will carry the same weight.

The location of the presser is also really important. It should be able to accommodate the number of attendees and should have a link to what's being announced. A company may decide to hold the conference at the production facility or in a retail store if it's about a new product launch.

Another consideration is who to invite. Companies generally have a list of media who are apprised of the conference with a copy of the press release. The invitation, just like the release, should be well crafted in order to get the maximum level of people interested.

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