Press Conferences 101: November 3rd meeting recap

By Allison Zullo

Happy week 11, Bobcats! Keep powering through; the end of the semester is almost here!


  • Congratulations to our new VP of Social Media, Erica Stonehill! Erica will be taking over when our current VP, Stephanie Gort, graduates in December.
  • The annual Scripps PRSSA Thanksgiving dinner will take place November 17 at 6 p.m., in lieu of our weekly meeting, at Ben Clos’ apartment, 317 Palmer Place. Sign up to bring dishes, supplies, or to help cook!
  • Sales for Scripps Spirit jerseys close this Sunday, November 9. We’re selling them in green and white, so be sure to get yours while you can!
  • This year’s networking trips will be to Cleveland and Chicago! They will take place next semester, so look for more information about them in the future.
  • Member spotlight: Matt Birt. Give him a follow on Twitter at @birtmc.
  • ImPRessions spotlight: Kelly Hayes (@kmshayes). Thanks for all of your hard work as Director of Communications, and we will miss you when you graduate in December!

Project Updates:

  • International Education Week will be taking place Nov. 15-20. The international student dinner takes place that Saturday. Tickets are $5 and going fast! For more information, follow them on Twitter at @OhioIEW or visit their website:
  • Scripps Innovation Challenge had a successful kick-off event and first boot camp session. Registration ends Dec. 4, so be sure to get your team together (or encourage your friends and classmates to do so!). For more information, follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @SIC_OHIOU or visit their website:
  • International Week will be taking place April 15-18. They just created a logo and is starting to solidify their PR plan!




After a quick presentation about the basics of press releases from Ben Clos, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism professors Bob Benz and Nerissa Young talked about press conferences from a different point of view than what PR pros are used to: the reporter’s.

Benz and Young emphasized the fact that reporters show up to press conferences having done their homework, with relevant questions and an aggressive attitude. They recommended that public relations professionals carefully think about what reporters they invite to the press conference. Benz explained that a reporter from a media source such as the Washington Post may be tougher on your client, but will give you more bang for you buck, since the Post has a large readership. However, Young recommended not forgetting about your local papers, as they could be crucial in reporting stories important to the local area.

They also both stressed the importance of preparing your client for tough questions from reporters, since the goal of many reporters is to break through mundane answers to get something different and perhaps controversial. If your client doesn’t know an answer, or cannot think of an answer, you (as a PR pro) haven’t done your job.

Benz and Young also had a few recommendations when it comes to setting up the room for a press conference. Free food and coffee are always a good idea, as are lots of outlets for reporters to plug in their various technologies. However, gift bags/baskets with the product that the press conference is introducing or advertising are NOT a good idea, as this could influence the journalist’s opinion on the product, and therefore influence the story and damage the journalist’s reputation.

Benz and Young also emphasized the effect social media has had on the evolution of press conferences. Reporters are now live tweeting the conferences, and even in some cases live streaming it to online and television viewers. As Young explained, with social media, “Nothing is ever off the record anymore.”

Hope you learned a TON about how to properly prepare for a press conference! We’ll see you at next week’s meeting, #ScrippsPRSSA.

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