The rise of the virtual press conference has gathered pace in recent years, with a number of factors behind this phenomenon:
- Budgets are shrinking, and it’s becoming more difficult for journalists to travel and attend events live. A recent report published by the European University estimates that, during the first lockdown in March 2020, media companies lost 30-50% of their advertising revenue. As a result, newsrooms had to cut budgets for freelancer contributions and end short-term contracts, leading to fewer journalists having to work longer hours.
- Remote working is on the rise. After surveying a number of European companies, SD Worx found that 27% of employees work remotely at present, compared to 16% before the pandemic. This means that, to connect with all the people you want to, you need an online presence.
- Global firms can have their CEO or other senior leader update all stakeholders online. Hybrid and virtual IR and PR events, such as AGMs and Capital Markets Days, have become a thing because they reach more people and are much more convenient than in-person events.
If you are thinking about taking your press conferences online, this article explains why you should do it and how to make the most of this powerful opportunity.
How does a virtual conference work?
There are a few different ways to host an online press conference. Here are the main methods you can choose from:
|Type of Conference||What it Entails|
An online conference involves a number of remote attendees communicating remotely with each other using cameras. They often share screens and present documents to the meeting. This is more like a virtual meeting for a smaller number of people than a traditional press conference.
A webcast resembles a press conference more clearly and is suitable for audiences of all sizes. The host or hosts present to the audience via live streaming. Attendees can chat, ask questions and interact with features such as polls and surveys.
The hosts may be at a specific venue from which the webcast is streamed live. They can also join remotely.
A hybrid event takes place at a designated location where audience members can attend in person if they like, but it is also available for remote attendees, who have the opportunity to engage.
Advantages of virtual press conferences
Different event formats
The flexibility of online press conferences makes them advantageous to companies. You can choose the format that suits your business, the situation, the audience you want to engage and the outcomes you require from the event. This means you can plan the ideal virtual event to ensure the largest audience participation possible.
Flexible choice of location
Taking press conferences online frees you up from having to decide on a single, potentially costly, location for your event. The trend for remote working means that not all your potential audience will be located in large cities and able to travel to your event. This way, they can take part without leaving their home or office.
In addition, you can broadcast to different regions and countries at the same time without having to book a venue in each territory for that area’s press.
Your hosts can be located remotely, in your offices, at a conference centre, in a custom studio such as our venues in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, Brussels and Paris, or in any location around the world, depending on what works best for your business.
Venue hire can prove expensive for face-to-face events. In addition, there are other costs such as refreshments, travel and accommodation expenses for your staff, and printing of the documents you want to distribute to attendees. Taking the event online can help avoid these expenses, as you use digital methods to deliver information to your remote participants.
Easier for attendees
With a press conference, you want as many people to attend as possible so that you can get your message out, which means you have to make the process simple for them. If they can take part online on any of their devices, wherever they have internet connections, they are more likely to engage than if they have to travel a hundred kilometres to a specific venue.
A virtual conference does not eat into their time as much as in-person press conferences. They don’t have to account for travel time, and they can continue working at their desk if there is a delay for any reason, meaning that they do not have to make that time up later.
One problem with traditional press conferences is that you are at the mercy of the reporters pulling out the information that they are most interested in, which might not chime with the message you wanted to put across. When you webcast, you can place a recording of the whole briefing on your website and even share the pertinent information in a series of clips for your social media. You control the narrative.
How to plan a successful virtual press conference
1. Find the right platform
There has been a huge rise in the use of basic video communication tools, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams in recent years. But, if you want a secure, stable and truly interactive experience for your online press conference, you need a specialist webcasting platform, such as Company Webcast.
Company Webcast is ISO certified (27001), which relates to the security of your data and gives peace of mind that your sensitive information will be safe. Our team also boasts a wealth of experience from working with some of the biggest organisations. This means we have the insight to help you make your virtual press conference a huge success.
The tools at your disposal when you use Company Webcast make interaction and engagement with the audience simple but very effective. This allows you to make it a memorable experience for everyone involved.
2. Identify your audience
Who do you want to talk to? Who needs to hear the news that you have to report?
These are questions that you need to ask yourself before your event. The people you invite can spread the word quickly in the right circles if you pinpoint who you are talking to.
With a virtual press conference, you can aim higher and more broadly with your audience, as there are no physical limits to attendance. If there is an influential blogger in your niche that is based overseas, for example, you can invite them to join the conference in a way that would not be possible at a solely physical event.
3. Send invitation emails
Your mailing list and contact directories are some of your best tools for promoting an event and increasing attendance. These people have already expressed an interest in your company, or you already have a working relationship with them.
You still need to make sure your email stands out, though, as their inboxes will be inundated with similar invites. Also, don’t be afraid to follow up with people who do not respond within a couple of days. They may just have missed the original message.
Explain in the email that the event is online and provide simple and clear instructions on registering for the event. Share any password information and details of technical support they may need and even drop a diary reminder in to show up on their calendar.
4. Practice before you speak
A rehearsal of the press conference before you go live is essential. First, it will help the host understand their script better. The more they read it out loud, the more natural it will sound.
And second, it will also aid in making the transitions smoother and help improve the operating technical aspects like presentations and slides. The presenter will get a feel for when they need to put each slide up without having to wait for a cue and then leaving a pause whilst they react.
If the host has practised enough, they will feel more confident in their ability to express the message, and the audience will notice.
5. Check the tech
With any online event, you need to know that the streaming technology, microphones, lighting, and everything else will work for your purposes. Try a dummy run to check that you can webcast, and it looks the way you want it to be on-screen.
You should also make sure the operator is comfortable with any cuts and with showing the presentations. If a host has to do anything technical, ensure that they have the ability to do so close at hand, so they don’t need to be worrying about where the button they need to press is situated.
6. Publish related press releases
If your audience has access to embargoed press releases, fact sheets and supporting materials from the press conference in advance, they will be able to understand why they should attend your announcement.
They will also be able to concentrate more on what you are saying rather than trying to understand the main concept the first time they hear about it. Distribute these documents by email, and make sure you pull out the most relevant information to make it easy for the journalists to use in their stories.
7. Keep attendees engaged
Engagement is the key to preventing viewers from becoming distracted, and it can also provide relevant feedback for you. With Company Webcast, you have the facility to keep your guests interacting with polls and surveys that maintain their interest and help you understand how they are reacting to the main subject of your press conference.
8. Leave time for questions
An important part of a press conference is where the journalists ask the host or experts about the subject of the event. This is essential, as all reporters want to be able to squeeze in more information and additional quotes from the event. Make sure there is a method for attendees to leave questions and interact with the conference, such as a chat function or a chatbox.
9. Save the video
By recording the event, you can allow other potential attendees who missed the live conference to watch it in full. This also creates a destination on your website for anyone else interested in the press conference.
And why not publish your online press conference on your YouTube account? As to other social sites and newsletters, you can post short, shareable clips that attract attention and get people to watch your event in full. Or, you could use the audio for a podcast.
A simple video of your news conference can be transformed into several pieces of marketing content for your business.
How do you speak at a press conference?
Speak naturally and slowly, enunciating properly so that people can understand and follow what you are saying. This is particularly important if you are inviting an international audience who might not speak the same language natively.
There is sometimes a tendency to speed up the way you speak when you are nervous, so be conscious of maintaining a steady pace.
What should you do after the press conference?
You should follow up with those attendees that you most want to report your message. Check what their plans are for the media coverage of your live video event. Take a look through your attendee list to see if any major players did not make it, and contact them directly with a link to watch the full conference on demand.
You should also debrief after the event with all involved parties to work out what you can do to improve the experience next time.
A virtual press conference can be a productive and effective tool in your efforts to spread the word about a new product, service or any other company news. Going online allows more flexibility and a broader audience. Besides great PR, you also end up with some excellent content for your website and socials. You can increase attendance rates by allowing people to take part from their office or home.
And, if you choose Company Webcast, you can make your press conference engaging with polls, surveys and other interactive elements. For more information, request a demo of Company Webcast today.