How to organize the perfect press conference? An interview with an expert!
A press conference is a way to announce a new product or service, a new invention or other news related to your business. What important aspects should be taken into account when organising a press conference?
Frederik Meulewaeter, External Relations Officer and a frequent organizer of press conferences at Agoria has the answers to all your questions!
External Relations Officer at Agoria
BluePoint: What should be taken into account when drawing up the programme for a press conference?
Frederik: First of all, you should pick the right date. Any weekday except for Friday afternoon, because the journalists will already have submitted the main content for Saturday’s newspaper by then. I also try to avoid hosting a press conference at the weekend. A weekday at 10:00 is the best timing. If you start at 11:00, it will probably be too late to broadcast the report in the 13:00 news.
A weekday at 10:00 is the best timing.
If you start at 11:00, it will probably be too late to broadcast the report in the 13:00 news.
I also check the Belga News Agency calendar to see if any other press conferences are scheduled on the same date or in the same timeslot. If this is the case, selecting another date is best to increase the likelihood of attendance by journalists.
At Agoria we always try to limit a press conference to a maximum of 45 minutes. In this way, we respect the time available to journalists and ensure that the essence of our story is always communicated in a brief but clear manner.
The schedule of an ideal press conference for Agoria is as follows:
10:00 - 10:02: Welcome by CEO
10:02 - 10:12: Presentation of the subject by an expert
10:12 - 10:17: Business testimonial supporting the presentation
10:17 - 10:22: Conclusion and statement of expectations for politicians
10:22 - 10:30: Q&A
10:30 - 10:45: Camera interviews and written press interviews in a private room
Of course, the journalists are welcomed with a cup of coffee. If the press conference starts at 11:00, we also provide a light lunch (sandwiches) or even a lunchbox for them to take away, says Frederik Meulewaeter, press expert at Agoria.
BluePoint: What factors are important when choosing a venue for your press conference?
Frederik: We apply criteria to determine the venue. For example:
- Ideal audio-visual infrastructure is essential.
As Agoria paves the way for all technology-inspired companies in Belgium, perfectly functioning technology is undeniably important. We count on high-quality projection, stable microphones and cutting-edge technology such as interactive whiteboards to take our presentation to the next level. High-quality sound is imperative; this is a common issue. We like to hold our radio interviews in a cosy room that with high quality sound and no interference. Look for a venue that can offer multiple configurations. At Agoria, we appreciate the added value of having high-quality equipment at our disposal with which we can live-stream or record the press conference.
- Technical support staff available at the press conference,
just in case we have additional requirements. This definitely gives us more certainty and less stress during the conference itself.
- A stable internet connection seems obvious,
but unfortunately it is not standard at every venue. This is also important for the journalists themselves, as they often write their article immediately after the press conference in a separate room and publish it online.
- The location is also important.
A centrally located venue with sufficient parking space is very convenient. It is also paramount to provide sufficient signage throughout the building to ensure journalists do not waste time looking for the right room.
- In-house catering is an advantage,
because it saves a lot of time when the venue makes sure coffee and other drinks are available at the right time.
BluePoint: Which topics are most successful in terms of attracting journalists?
Frederik: I think it’s important to only organize a press conference when you have important, relevant and newsworthy content. At Agoria we always try to respond to current situations and events. For example, the first frost in Belgium: Agoria represents the stoves and fireplaces sector and could, for example, organise a press conference on the emission of particulates or on how to use and maintain a stove properly. Themes that court controversy, such as the 5G network, will, of course, receive more attention. The more people involved in the subject, the more media exposure there will be.
BluePoint: Do you have any tips and tricks to get journalists to turn up at your press conferences?
Frederik: It’s always a major advantage for a press conference to have an interesting speaker or a testimonial from a company. Journalists often request our press pack upfront so they can get started on their coverage. You can forward this 'under embargo', but we choose not to do so because it would not be fair to the other journalists and there would therefore be less chance of these journalists attending the press conference.
It’s always a major advantage for a press conference to have an interesting speaker
or a testimonial from a company.
BluePoint: Can you give us any further tips for a successful press conference? What makes a press conference successful for yourself?
Frederik: Being well prepared is everything. Personally, I think the success of a press conference is based on the coverage it receives. I believe it is important to establish high-quality contacts with journalists. You can learn a lot from their questions and suggestions on elements you might not think of immediately yourself. I always check whether they are satisfied with the content of the press conference and whether the press kit contains all the necessary information.
1. Make sure that the speakers are well briefed on the scenario and the schedule.
2. Know in advance what the speakers are going to say and request their presentation slides a few days before the actual press conference.
This allows you to add these to the press pack for the journalists.
3. Print the press pack a day or two ahead just in case you experience technical issues with your printer.
4. Make it as easy as possible for journalists.
For example, provide a press kit in both Dutch and French. It’s important not to commercialise your press conference or the journalists won’t turn up. We only offer the journalists a branded press kit which contains the press pack, slides, brochures and pen and paper. We try to summarise the content on one side of A4 to capture the essence of the content and to provide the journalists with ready-to-share information for their press agency.
5. Brief the reception staff so they know where the press conference will take place and are able to provide directions to journalists when they arrive.
6. Reserve some parking places in front of the venue or in the car park for the journalists.
7. Test technical systems such as the sound system and the microphones well in advance.
Nothing looks more unprofessional than struggling to get the sound system to work while being watched by the (Belgian) press.
8. Make sure everything is ready to start the press conference on time.
9. Keep your company branding in mind.
Place your organisation’s banner in the background when someone of your company is being interviewed on camera.
Do you need the perfect venue for your next press conference?
BluePoint Venues offers three accessible locations in Antwerp, Brussels and Liège. On top, BluePoint Brussels is located right next to VRT / RTBF and RTL radio & télévision! With our highly professional AV and cutting-edge equipment, you can be sure your press conference will be flawless. Live-streaming and recording your press conference are also covered by the BluePoint team. The same applies to welcoming your guests, and to the catering and AV support.
If you are looking for an on-trend but cosy look and feel, you can always host your press conference at the Tech.Lounge Brussels or Antwerp, where you will find the latest technological applications such as a Brainstorm Arena or Classroom of the Future.
Make an appointment for a site visit via firstname.lastname@example.org or on +32 (0)2 706 88 00.