Last week I was triggered by an announcement made by Nestlé, regarding a press conference concerning their 9-month sales. I wondered why a press conference and why related to 9 months sales?
In current difficult times for many financial media, journalists often are pressed to deliver stories and have time constraints. Financial results are straightforward stories and so the added value of meeting the Executive Board face to face is in many cases limited to the big newspapers only, which have more writers available. In my experience, in Amsterdam, as a rule, don’t expect to have more than 8 journalists showing up at a Results press conference. Since there is quite a significant costs difference between a video and a audio web cast and – let’s not forget – quite an organisation behind holding a press conference, lately the trend therefore has been shifting towards Results audio casts for the media, which, if you offer some additional one on one interviews, generates the same qualitative and quantitative coverage than via a live and webcast press conference.
So why is Swiss food giant Nestlé organising a press conference with several top managers in New York? Is this (only) because they might have bigger PR budgets? They have already planned next year’s 9 months sales press conference.
As I was watching the introduction of the press conference by the CEO of 9 other executives behind the table, it made me wonder if the attending press would sit through all the presentations. In addition, because of the time difference, the Results press release had been issued hours beforehand and also the investor call happened hours beforehand. I therefore did not expect the press conference would bring hard news for the press.
What’s interesting is that Nestlé held their first 9 months sales press conference in New York, in their biggest market, the USA, the first time outside Switzerland. They gave the New York based media a lot of background information and the opportunity to meet with top management. I have no doubt it must have been a valuable investment for the company and for the attending journalists and here’s why. Let me know if you have other experiences and/or ideas:
5 ideas for a Results press conference
- Theme the event: Build a Results press conference around a certain theme or country. Organise your Results press conference in your biggest market or the market where you can show the broadest brand/product portfolio, the market that is the best example of where and how your strategy is executed etc, irrespective of where your company is listed. The background that you can provide during such an event regarding strategy and brands etc is valuable for journalists.
- Time the event at Q3: Organise a press conference at Q3 Results instead of half year Results to reach more journalists and gain more exposure. You may want to do this event during a separate media day outside Results because of the time consuming preparations, however, if you have the resources, consider organising this event at Results day. It very well might be the reason for journalists to write about your company at all or to write better quality about your company’s Results. Even if you’re not providing hard news, but background, strategy and brand information, this is valuable information for if and when journalists need to write about you.
- Spend time with the press: Take the time to actually meet with the attending press. Shake hands with attending press after the press conference and listen. Don’t leave the set immediately to do interviews in a separate room. This is the occasion to further build face to face relationships with reporters that you usually don’t spend (a lot of) time with. If you would change location regularly, you will extend the pool of local journalists that follow you closely and understand the company better. A multinational holding a press conference in New York will not only benefit hugely from the relationships with local journalists from American media, but also from e.g. New York based reporters from European media.
- Spice up the event: Try to keep the conference within the 1 hour and 30 minutes max, including 45 minutes of Q&A. Consider throwing in a few commercials or other videos which show how your biggest brands are positioned and which communication tactics you use. At the same time, commercials are a nice break between speakers. A press conference is the perfect opportunity to show some of your brands in the best possible way and to engage with the attending media about those brands, so brand every room where speakers engage with journalists.
- Leverage the event: Build a pro-active media plan around the event. Set up a factory or store visit so that journalists see where your brands are sold and how. Benefit from the fact that your country top management is present and have them fully engaged with the press during factory and store visits. Set up interviews with the CEO and CFO with (a selection of) the financial media.