The Audio Press Conference

If you are working to reach reporters in multiple locations, try organizing an audio press conference.

It is similar to a regular press conference, but held over the telephone. These normally take at least five to seven days to plan and to make pitch calls to reporters. Planning and promoting the audio briefing will be essential. There are many telecommunications companies with experience in setting up and coordinating audio press briefings.

If you are new to this approach, it helps to know the technical aspects of the audio call and the range of services the company can provide to help you meet your media objectives. To start, the communications vendor will set up a toll-free number for speakers and journalists to call, with enough lines to serve the anticipated number of participants. Speakers will be connected to open, two-way phone lines as they would be for a conference call.

Reporters will be on a listen-only line until they signal the operator that they would like to ask a question. Using listen-only lines for a majority of the participants will minimize distractions by suppressing the sound on everyone’s lines except for the speaker’s. This will block out any background noise going on in the newsrooms and prevent a chaotic, time-consuming free-for – all from developing among participants.

The vendor will provide a technician or operator who will work with you to set up the call, open the briefing, instruct reporters on how to signal to ask questions, and remain available until the call is over and everyone is disconnected.

Ideally, someone from your group should moderate. This person will welcome everyone on the call, introduce the speakers, and provide basic information, including your Web address and phone number for follow-up questions. In addition, the vendor can provide a “backline” so that astaff member can talk to an operator (not the person on the call) and can let you know which reporters have signaled to ask a question.The backline monitor and second operator can then determine the order of the questions and who gets to ask a question when.