While working as a journalist, I visited hundreds of events organised for the media, some of which were successful and valuable, others – a complete misunderstanding and a waste of time.
At a communication agency, I noticed that this notion was drifting into the shadows. And there are objective reasons for that.
For decades, press conferences and other events hosted by organisations for journalists seemed to be an accelerant or panacea for all news. However, with the rapid emergence of online media and social networks, with full live streaming capabilities, their popularity has undoubtedly begun to decline.
Just over a decade ago, less news information was generated and social networks were just taking their first steps. Additionally, there were fewer channels for communication, through which we could publish and receive news. Nowadays, a serious international daily newspaper “produces” 1,200 stories a day – articles, reviews, video news and short stories are all born on the Internet. It is estimated that 2.5 trillion bytes of data are published every day in the world, and almost 90% of the data has been produced within the last two years.
Naturally, this changes the behaviour of the information user. The only way to deal with the never-ending flow of information is to sort through the news. As we sort waste, we also sort news – in our mailboxes, on the phone, in digital communication media and, of course, in our heads.
The endless stream of data has also changed the day-to-day jobs of people, the media representatives, who prepare the information. A while ago, a journalist had the luxury of producing just one article a day, then several articles or reviews, and now there are days when a journalist has to submit up to ten (albeit small) new texts a day.
When planning their communication, companies need to take these changes into account. While in the past an event seemed to be the right solution to announce annual results of a large corporation, nowadays a concentrated press release, targeting a narrow group of journalists, is sufficient for such news.
It is customary for the media to respond to news that is vast, touches the lives of many, and leads to political, economic or social change. Celebrity and influencer lifestyle news also gets attention for a simple reason – it will be enjoyed by readers. Audience is the deciding factor in the news.
Thereby, when considering which channel is best for delivering a piece of news, first consider the audience for whom the message will be relevant. If you wish to publish the financial results for a company, they will be of interest to companies in the same sector or investors who consume business news. This means you will need a press release for media focuses on the business sector.
If you are announcing a planned investment, it may be relevant to multiple funding corporations. Perhaps it is best to prepare a statement for them or to inform them in person, rather than to run a press release that can be found on one media channel.
If you have created an innovation, received a serious investment from an international funding corporation, and the representatives are coming to Lithuania for the first time, a press conference, where questions can be asked by both innovators and experienced business angels, will certainly be the right communication solution.
Thereby, we can communicate important news in a variety of manners, depending on the weight of the message, the audience and the context of the information.
For events and meetings with journalists, keep news that the media representatives can see, touch, feel, and news that can be photographed and hence shown to readers. Continuing the theme of inventions, a new functional invention, that facilitates the daily lives of many, can be boldly presented at a press conference. While an invention that will change the lives of niche scientists can be presented in a press release.
The nature of an event is also predetermined by knowledge within the media. For example, all media channels have and have always had transport and automotive journalists, as these themes are highly relevant to many of the consumers in our country.
Nowadays most media houses do not thrive without journalists who delve into food, beauty or fashion.
It is always worthwhile estimating how many people will attend an event before making an announcement. When we launch a new car model, a press conference will be successful for two reasons – it is a topic that is relevant to many people and each media publishing house has a transportation specialist.
From this perspective, it may seem that the amount of news suitable for a press conference is decreasing every year. That is because, within the context of information devaluation, we have less and less “expensive”, highly valuable news. On the bright side, for those everyday topics, we have endless channels, ranging from a company profile page on Facebook to a simple newsletter sent out to customers.
The best way to see if an media event can really salvage your message is to envision yourself as a journalist and sincerely think: what if today I would have to neglect all other news reports and spend several hours en route and at an event, and hence work overtime to finish all over tasks? What would I do: would I go to the event to write down the annual results of your company or would I just publish them at the click of a button in the editorial office?