What is that you say… …a pressinar?
Zoom, Teams, Hang Out, Webex : we all know them much better now, through all the video calls, tele-meetings and e-aperos. These virtual meeting apps are also very useful for press briefings. We even have a name for such a remote press briefing: “pressinar”. And just as for a ‘regular’ press briefing, we also have some practical tips for a pressinar.
First the content. It doesn’t change and is the same as for a physical press briefing. Send the journalists an invitation with an attractive text, e-mail material to the journalists in advance and under embargo, give them a photo and contact details, get your message across persuasively… All that remains the same. It is mainly the form that has to be taken into account. And even there some things remain the same.
Dress like you would to go to a regular press briefing, and don’t sit in front of your camera in a polo shirt and shorts. Sometimes you will be filmed at a physical press briefing, but during a pressinar you will always be filmed: so make sure you don’t wear shirts with fine stripes or checks to avoid “moiré”. As far as your message is concerned: at any press briefing, you don’t just talk to the journalists, but through them also to their readers and therefore to your customers. It is not different in the virtual world. Keep this in mind when drawing up your storyline, and when making your presentation and all additional materials.
During a pressinar you are constantly on screen, and viewers (i.e. the journalists) will pay attention to details. Make sure your background doesn’t give a peek into your messy office. Even better: set up your own background. Preferably one that has something to do with the topic of the press briefing. It’s also a good idea to have two speakers, or at least one speaker and one moderator. If one fails, the other can take over. That does happen, and we speak from experience…
If you are well prepared you can avoid things going wrong. Do a dry run or general rehearsal with the speakers an hour before. You can then test the connection, the background, the sound and the interaction. Also send your presentation to the registered journalists one hour before the pressinar. If something goes wrong with the image, the participants can still follow their personal presentation you provided. Also connect with the speakers a good five minutes before the briefing starts. That puts them at ease. Don’t forget that many speakers have never spoken to journalists in such a way before, and that this can cause a certain level of stress.
What shouldn’t you do? Certainly don’t make the briefing too long. Staring at a screen for half an hour non-stop is already a massive task for many. Don’t let all participants intervene during the presentation, but agree for questions to be asked through “chat” and to a question-and-answer session at the end. Don’t rely blindly on your home Wi-Fi either. Use a good old cable connection if possible. It can save you a lot of frustration. Cross your fingers that the general Telenet or Proximus network in your neighbourhood doesn’t fail. That would just be bad luck.
Pressinars will become the new normal in future, we are convinced of that. In the current circumstances it is a necessity, later on it will be here to stay. Why? You save a lot of time, you don’t need to travel, and almost all journalists are “tech savy” enough to collect interesting information for their readers through a pressinar. That’s all there is to it.
(John Kinnart and Kris Poté, both communication specialists)