Use sparingly and to effect

Press conferences are an ever popular marketing instrument. They quickly reach many journalists, who then act as multipliers. However, the time and place must be right, otherwise the PR measure will be a flop.

I really don't know how this photocopier works." The nice lady at the trade fair reception is friendly but helpless. Bad news for the PR agency which has just received some last-minute changes to the text from their client before the press conference at the trade fair. This sort of thing usually happens at the last minute. You just have to keep your nerves and work quickly to update the press folders with the new version of the chairman's speech.
Gisa Weingartz, project manager of the Neuss-based PR agency Bluemoon, normally does not have a problem with client wishes of this kind, but: "This time it was a catastrophe because the equipment on site was not working. That cost a lot of time. I expect better service from a trade fair organiser than we got." There was neither a photocopier nor a printer in the press centre and no way for the reporters to go online. The inflexible attitude of the organiser also annoyed Weingartz. "We put the folders of the exhibitor, our client, in empty press pigeonholes as usual. But we were told we were not allowed to use them because they were reserved." A practice that is not really very common these days. "Despite our pleading to be able to use them at least temporarily, we had to empty the pigeonholes, which then remained unused throughout the fair."
PR agencies have a tough job. As service providers for their exhibitors and go-betweens dealing with trade fair organisers, they are often caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If anything goes wrong, the agency is an easy target. So before an agency prepares and holds a press conference at a tradeshow it should ask itself whether a press conference is a suitable medium for broadcasting a product or news item.The Siegen-based company Rittal has its own product PR professionals. They organised their last press conference themselves, using external service providers were necessary, for example, for film and video equipment. The follow-up to the event is also planned in detail. Press clippings are prepared inhouse and externally at Rittal. Each press conference also has its own press review. That way, it has been possible to assess the success of such events over a specified period.
Rittal's policy: The press is mainly invited to presentations of major global innovations. "We usually do that on our premises in Herborn or completely separately from any trade fair. We use trade fairs to nurture personal and good contacts with the press", says Martin Kandziora, head of market communications at Rittal.
"Communicating with the market via the trade press has traditionally been a priority for our company", stresses Angela Josephs-Olesch, press officer and head of PR at Phoenix Contact, Blomberg. "We make selective use of press conferences, especially at trade fairs. We know that editors and journalists have (more than) enough press conferences to attend and that they do not appreciate being confronted by pure product presentations at press conferences." So Phoenix Contact primarily holds press conferences with a global, strategic content.
Kandziora relies on novelty value: "We present more than 500 innovations a year. That automatically arouses press interest, especially as we cover a very broad range.
"We plan and organise all our press conferences in-house. We do all PR work with internal staff.". The review stage works the same way: "True to our insourcing policy, we do all our own review work, including clippings. The results are reported to the board, the management, the specialists in the divisions affected and the company members. All press reviews can be accessed by all employees via the intranet and are updated daily", was how Angela Josephs-Olesch described the procedure.

m+a report Nr.4 / 2006 vom 15.06.2006
m+a report vom 15. Juni 2006