Tuesday, May 6, 2008

“The Reporters are Coming! The Reporters are Coming!”

It's one thing to schedule a press event. It's another to make it successful.

John Verrico, NAGC's Communications Director and a spokesman for the Science & Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, shared his secrets at NAGC's Communications School in Albuquerque last week.

Verrico recommends only holding a press event for information that the media would consider important enough to cover. If the event meets that criteria, then make sure the event is visually interesting, in a location that is accessible by the media, inclusive of other appropriate groups or agencies, and that you have the right spokesperson running the thing.

And to make sure your spokesperson is ready, he suggests holding a "murder board." No, there's no violence involved; but it can be brutal. The purpose of a murder board is to have the spokesperson take directed, pointed, anticipated and off-the-wall questions, to help him or her be comfortable and determine how to deliver message points. The object is for the spokesperson to be prepared, but not appear rehearsed.

Pay attention to logisitics, Verrico says. Make sure everyone involved knows the details. At an event he attended once, the host farmer had not been told the details of the press event and greeted everyone with a shotgun. He also points out that while children and animals make great backdrops, they can be terribly unreliable, such as the time an osprey -- in full camera view -- attacked an eagle that had just been released.

What crazy things have happened to you while putting together a press event? If you attended John's session in Albuquerque, what were your reactions?

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