7 hallmarks of a successful virtual press conference

by | Sep 28, 2023 | Public Relations

It’s 2023, and more online events are happening than ever. Press conferences are no exception. If you want to host an online event where you can share news, updates, or exciting company details with journalists and reporters, a virtual press conference might be the right way to go. 

You’ll see from the Statista graph below that in 2021, 33 percent of survey respondents preferred online events to in-person ones. The survey was released in 2021 and had 3,167 respondents from around the globe. Although 57 percent of people preferred in-person events according to this survey, a separate Statista survey revealed that digital marketers anticipated that 40 percent of their events would be virtual in 2022. 

7 hallmarks of a successful virtual press conference

Image sourced from Statistica

Virtual press conferences are indeed the future. But why should you opt for one and how do you ensure it’s successful? Today, we’ll be addressing these questions so that you can launch your virtual event with confidence. 

Defining the virtual press conference

A virtual press conference is part of a marketing and PR campaign. It’s a way of sharing company news with the media via an online platform. This could be the launch of an innovative new product, an update about your company’s policies, or changes to the way you work. These conferences share something that you want, or need, to officially announce to the world. 

Virtual press conferences are carried out using online tools and platforms that facilitate communication. Everyone enters the virtual room and the speaker discusses his or her topics. Additionally, virtual press conferences provide the opportunity for journalists to ask questions.

Why opt for a virtual press conference?

Let’s look at why you might prefer to opt for a virtual press conference rather than an in-person one:

  • Flexibility: Virtual press conferences are more flexible than in-person ones. This is true for both the company and the attendees. Virtual conferences offer the flexibility of engaging a global audience without geographical restrictions. Journalists can enter the room online via a link sent to their email address, and there’s no need for them to travel.  Additionally, you can record the conference and send it to applicable parties. They can watch the replay and gather any information they might have missed. This, again, can simply be sent through an email link.
  • Save money: The costs involved in a virtual press conference are small compared to in-person ones. So much so that you may be able to fit several dates into your budget to reach as many people as possible. The actual cost depends on the number of attendees. However, if we’re talking about small ones, i.e. under 250 participants, the average cost is between $2,500 and $10,000. Conversely, the average cost of a small in-person conference is between a whopping $15,000 and $50,000. Confronted with these figures, it’s easy to see the appeal of virtual conferences. 
  • More accessible: Online conferences pose no geographical restrictions. Everyone can access the conference from anywhere in the world and you can therefore attract a larger pool of journalists. Additionally, attendees can enter your press conference from any device, making it extremely handy to participate on-the-go as an iPhone or Android conference call.

Hallmarks of a successful virtual press conference

What exactly do you need for a successful virtual press conference? You want it to be professional, but you also want there to be a relatively relaxed atmosphere. Here are the top hallmarks of a virtual press conference:

1. Knowledgeable keynote speaker

Your keynote speaker should be confident to deliver the ‘news’ in a positive and clear manner. They must also be able to answer questions from journalists. One of the top qualities of a keynote speaker is charisma. This quality will help the speaker to build an authentic relationship with your audience and maintain their interest throughout the conference. 

Practice is key here. Ensure your speaker has perfected their scripts and can deliver your messages in an engaging and charismatic tone. They must be experts on the topic and understand your brand, its personality, and its audience perfectly. 

7 hallmarks of a successful virtual press conference

2. The right platform

There are lots of virtual conference platforms out there. To choose the right one for you, consider the following specifications:

  • Engagement facilitating features like polls, surveys, discussion forums, and Q&As. 
  • High-quality video and audio capabilities. 
  • Have a conference call app so journalists can attend via a mobile device. 
  • Insights and analytics so you can measure the conference’s success. For example, how many people showed up, answered your polls, stayed until the end, etc. 
  • Built in break out rooms where attendees can network and mingle. 
  • A good amount of technical support for your company and the attendees. 
  • The best video transcription software to transcribe the conference.

3. Well-defined goals, KPIs and metrics

What are your goals for the virtual press conference? To get the word out about something, sure, but to what end? Is it to boost revenue, brand awareness, attract new customers, or turn existing customers into loyal ones?

Establishing firm goals is a vital step for any conference. Consider using the SMART goal method:

  • Specific: For example, you want the press conference to attract an X number of customers to buy new softwares, such as 3CX alternatives
  • Measurable: The number of sales, social media mentions, site visits, etc. will tell you whether the conference had an impact on your sales. 
  • Achievable: If you’re a small company selling new software, you might not be able to compete with the likes of Google and Microsoft. Keep your expectations realistic. 
  • Relevant: How does the goal relate to your situation? For example, you want to sell your new software because you’ve invested in it and want to see a return on that investment. 
  • Time-bound: Your press conference information will only be ‘news’ for a short amount of time. Therefore, be realistic about the time in which you hope to achieve your goal.  

Interestingly, according to research conducted by the Dominican University, people who write their goals down “accomplish significantly more” than people who don’t. This could be because the act of writing down your goals gives them tangence and, in a way, more accountability.

Your KPIs and metrics are what you will use to measure your conference’s success and determine whether you’ve met your goals. For example, your ROI or number of news articles produced as a result of your conference.

4. A top-notch team

Your virtual press conference team will consist of people at the forefront of the event and behind the scenes. Here are some team members that are essential to the conference:

  • Keynote speaker: Will address the audience and share your news.
  • Manager: Will send invitations and communicate with the journalists, both before and after the event. 
  • Marketer: Advertizes the conference through social media, blogs, email, and other means of getting the word out. 
  • Script writer: Write the script for your keynote speaker, sharing all the details of your news. 
  • Technician: Takes care of all the technical aspects of the conference for you and your attendees. For example, they might download remote desktop connection to troubleshoot any technical problems. 
  • Analyst: Will measure the success of the conference with analytical software, like MLOps platforms, and determine whether your goals have been met. 

7 hallmarks of a successful virtual press conference

5. Virtual breaks

Give your attendees virtual breaks where they can grab a coffee and network with other attendees. The number of breaks you issue will depend on the length of your conference. Typically, a virtual press conference lasts for less than an hour.  

However, you might decide to turn it into a longer event with activities, polls, and various interactive elements. You might also have a mediator to encourage conversation during the breaks and ensure everyone is playing by the house rules.

6. Swag bags

Swag bags are a fun addition to a virtual press conference. They keep your event fresh in participants minds and encourage them to look forward to hearing your news. They’re full of branded gifts. Think of them as a little way of saying thank you in advance for attending your conference and covering your story. 

If you’re launching a range of travel products, for example, your swag bags could contain items like sunscreen, lip balm, a hat, sleep masks and mini toiletries. 

Instead of giving away a swag bag to every attendee, you could run a competition instead with the winner getting one as a prize. Perhaps you’ll award one to the person who asks the most questions or people who provide feedback on your conference. This makes it cheaper and more exciting.

7. Engaging, fun, and interesting

Finally, a hallmark of a successful virtual press conference is it being engaging, fun, and interesting. Consider adding the following elements to it:

  • Gamification: Gamification means adding game elements to something. This could be points or badges, for instance. Journalists could earn a point for every question they ask. 
  • Q&As: A Q&A session is vital for conferences of any kind. Be sure to have a session dedicated to questions and answers.
  • Break rooms: Provide an opportunity for participants to relax and chat with each other. You can also encourage conversation about your news. 
  • Social media: Remain active on social media to grow your business and update people about your conference. You can also post about it before and after the event. 
  • Polls and surveys: Include polls and surveys throughout the conference to keep people engaged in the conversation. Ask people their thoughts and opinions on your topics and announce, or display, the results. 

Wrapping up

Are you ready to launch a virtual press conference? Doing so will allow you to get the word out about your new products or company news while saving you considerable time and money. It’s a chance to show off your brand and communicate what you’re all about. Follow this guide to ensure your virtual press conference bears the hallmarks of a successful one. 

Jenna Bunnell
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified work communication & communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Here is her LinkedIn.