media update’s Nakedi Phala takes a look at ways that you can continue hosting top-class pressers via digital platforms.

As every PR pro knows, putting together a presser for a client costs a lot of money, depending on the client's prominence that is. For example, if they are a politician, you might spend a lot on resources. Well, it’s time to put those days behind you — a virtual presser can save a considerable amount of money and resources. 

One of the greatest things about an online press conference is that it is eco-friendly; this is opposed to the traditional way of hosting an actual live event. For example, there’s less traveling involved, which equals less car emission. There are many more benefits — keen to discover? 

Let's not waste any more time. Here are five tips to consider when hosting an online press conference: 

1. Contact your list of media houses

Due to the current pandemic, some publishers have been immensely affected, meaning their operations have been left at a standstill. So, as a smart PR pro, consider investing your communication efforts in the media houses that still have an online presence; this can benefit you in more ways than one. 

How, do you ask? Well, your announcements about your presser can be shared with clients straight from the site. And, your audience will now have a platform where they can learn about your organisation’s activities. 

Remember to target the publishers, broadcasters and journalists that you know have a higher chance of publishing your content, as this will increase the amount of coverage you get about your pressers going forward.

2. Planning and equipment 

If there was ever a time to be tech-savvy, that time is now, PR pros! In most cases, you are going to be responsible for organising the right equipment, such as headphones, webcams and other resourceful equipment. 

You now need to think like a broadcaster and help your client set up the equipment correctly so that it is convenient for them to use. Get their notes ready, make sure they’re edited and that there are no grammatical errors. 

Time is your biggest commodity. You need to start things early and send out conference invitations on time (at least a month prior) as this will give you an idea of how many people will attend the presser. It will also determine the size of the screen you should use on that day. For example, you’d want a big screen if a lot of people are attending the conference.  

3. Make use of virtual platforms

Your best alternative to hosting press conferences is through virtual platforms or apps. So, here are two platforms that could work for you: 

Zoom is currently the most popular virtual platform. It is easy to use and allows you to host conferences, webinars, training and day-to-day meetings. But why is it good for hosting a press conference? Zoom offers clear HD video with rich quality and clear audio input and output. And with dual-screen sharing, you can invite the journalists, stakeholders and audiences to attend the conference all at the same time. 

There’s also GoToWebinar, which is similar to Zoom, but with extra features that are well synchronised to the work of a PR pro. For example, the platform allows users to plan presentations for clients and has features that allow them to follow up with attendees. 

Essentially, GoToWebinar allows your attendees to join in the discussion and ask live questions, just as they would at a traditional press conference. And if there’s anything attendees need to help decide on, GoToWebinar has a voting poll feature where the audience can vote, just like in a boardroom. 

And for those attendees who might have missed the presser, there are recording features that you can utilise to record the conference and send it to them so that they can stay in the loop. 

There’s a variety of platforms you can use for your client or brand — it all depends on your organisation’s objectives, number of audiences, speakers and preference. 

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

When organising a virtual press conference, remember that the event should be treated like a traditional conference. 

It is of vital importance that you discuss things with your PR team, as they could have some ideas on aspects that you might not otherwise have had. For example, a team that communicates could tackle some issues together that one individual may not have been able to resolve on their own. You can achieve more through teamwork than by doing things all by yourself; share some responsibilities with others to help reduce strain.

Avail yourself to learning from those who are experienced and are used to communing through online channels. 

5. Use casual virtual platforms

To reach an even wider audience, you can make use of social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. These platforms have helpful features that allow you to connect live with your audience, meaning they can follow your presser simply by using their computers or their smart devices. Also, PR pros, you’ll be pleased to know that these platforms are also fairly easy to use. 

Let’s start with Twitter. How does its live feature work? Well, all you need to do is simply compose a Tweet, which would be your subject matter or theme. Then, tap on LIVE, which puts you on a pre-broadcast view where you’re at liberty to frame your shot. As soon as you’re ready, click on Go Live and you’re ready to host your presser. 

Facebook is similar in the sense that its features can be accessed via a cellular phone or a computer, and you can also schedule your live stream pressers. 

The most convenient part about being able to use a smart device is that you can broadcast from anywhere to share important information live. With Facebook, all you have to do is click on ‘Start Live Video’ and you’re ready to roll. Once you’re done, simply tap on ‘Finish’. 

Twitter and Facebook Live options are great if you’re communicating a one-way message. They will be exceptionally helpful when you are, for example, briefing audiences about changes or new projects that your client or organisation will be working on. Another example is when you are addressing a crisis. 

Crisis or no crisis, it’s important to seek creative and convenient ways to communicate with stakeholders, media practitioners and audiences. 

Do you think virtual platforms are the way to go even post-COVID-19? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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Did you know that brand safety isn’t just an issue for marketers? Check out this article on Brand safety: The three must-knows for PR pros to learn more.