We've all seen those cringe-worthy press events that stick in our heads – or even go viral – for less-than-optimal reasons. Some of them are pretty humorous, whereas others are downright uncomfortable. Although they may make the rounds online and gather plenty of attention, it's probably not quite the type of spotlight you're going for as you plan your press conference or media event.
How do you avoid the cringe while ensuring your event stands out from the crowd? A creative setting goes hand-in-hand with a polished, interesting presentation to wow your audience while providing a strong platform for effectively communicating your message.
Taking lessons from the good, the bad and the ugly, here are a few press event do's and don'ts to guide your strategy:
DON'T sacrifice clarity for cool
We admire attempts to create a more interesting setting or backdrop for your press event. We've seen countless bland backgrounds with speakers sitting in front of tables with gently rippled tablecloths.
However, be careful. Holding an event outdoors, for instance, can grab attention and suit the themes or topics you're trying to present, but you should tread cautiously to ensure your words won't be carried away by the wind, or your visuals obscured by a busy, distracting backdrop. Remember, your primary purpose is communication, so clarity is key.
DO get creative with settings you can control
That being said, choosing an out-of-the-ordinary location can bring some press events to the next level. Unveiling a new product in a gorgeous shopping centre could put viewers in a buying mindset, for example. You can also create order out of chaos by building a dependable stage set in an outdoor environment. Just make sure you test the camera angles and sound system, giving attention to wind, rain and other potential variables.
Appealing visuals can go a long way. For media events, remember that you have two audiences: Your viewers who will watch through filmed footage and reporters who will tell your story. Presenting a polished, professional look to both groups is key.
DON'T forget about body language
Have you ever watched an athlete or public figure make a statement while his or her body language said the exact opposite? Often, the look on your face or posture of the presenter's body says as much as his or her words, inducing your audience to either trust the message or treat it with scepticism.
Learn more about what facial expressions and body language say:
— Simonpure (@SPTranslations) May 12, 2015
DO use humour – appropriately
When a reporter throws a surprise (or perhaps inappropriate) question, it can often be helpful to deflect in a humorous, lighthearted manner. However, make sure that it's the right time and place to be funny.
In general, people enjoy a good chuckle, so incorporating a few appropriate, humorous lines into your speeches could catch your audience's attention and keep them engaged.
DON'T make promises you can't keep
Everyone wants to be a crowd-pleaser, and it can sometimes be difficult to come up with responses on the spot. Nonetheless, these press events often live on long after the big day, especially on the web. Therefore, ensure you're brand isn't making claims or commitments that it doesn't intend – or can't – follow through on.
Vague, sweeping commitments can also detract from the value of your event. We've all heard politicians, sports leaders and others make promises that have no real substance or clarity. The results are often uninspiring at best.
DO offer enticing tidbits or surprises
A surprise announcement or bit of exciting, interesting news can truly make a press event shine. Not only is it likely to make headlines and get people talking, it'll also encourage people to pay attention to your future events for similar intrigue. Just think about the attention the world gives to the announcements from Apple or Google – there's always an element of suspense and anticipation.
That's also why you should be careful not to give too much away in your press release leading up to the media event. You want to provide enough information to get people interested and draw reporters, but don't tell the whole story: You want to pique their curiosity so they can't help but tune in to the big announcement.