The Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, a bi-annual gathering of U.S. and Canadian professional TV journalists, is in full session in Pasadena–no rest for these journalists, they’re diving right into the New Year. Right now TV networks and cable channels are readying their talent, planning parties and furiously editing sizzle tapes. Also, PR practitioners are busy writing speeches for executives and briefing participating talent on what not to say.
With that, I thought it would be appropriate to provide tips to respective PR executives who will be presenting their shows and actors before this very prestigious crowd. I’ve organized over 40 of these press conferences myself and have sat in that many sessions as the publicist of the Association. So I’ve seen and experienced just about it all. I’ve made mistakes and had some failures and also have won awards for my conferences too. Therefore, for those who are new to the TCA, I’d thought you might like picking up a few pointers based on my observations and experiences.
RECOMMENDED PR TIPS
(1.) COMEDIC SETS – If you think the critics will love having one of your big name comedians open up your session with clever schtick, please don’t. I have never seen this go over well in the room. Mostly, you’ll receive deep moans from the crowd because the critics are there to cover TV and not be entertained. Entertainment like that is suited for an evening event or party. But during the day, it’s about the business at hand. Bring out your talent and executives and let the critics ask them questions. And if jokes come up during the sessions, then you’ll definitely get yucks from the crowd guaranteed.
(2.) MODERATORS - Moderators need to introduce themselves and the panelists (so many forget this point even though it seems basic) and more importantly, moderators should not ask the panelists questions – that’s the job of the critics.
(3.) TELEPROMPTERS ARE NOT NEEDED – Please, please try to convince your President or CEO that a teleprompter is not necessary for this conference. Persuade them to comment from their notes – this way their comments will feel more “real” and “honest” and less rehearsed. Transparency goes a long way with the critics.
(4.) REHEARSALS/BRIEFINGS – Although pre-conference briefings are necessary for many reasons, please try not over-rehearse or over message your talent. Believe me the critics will be able to tell in a heartbeat what’s promotional and sniff out the corporate speak. Keep your talent relaxed and confident that they can talk freely about their roles.
(5). EXECUTIVE CHEERLEADERS – Please instruct all employees attending the press conference not to cheer when others executives are introduced on stage or when accolades are announced like record-breaking ratings. Corporate network staff can laugh when the conversation lends itself, but need to remain ‘flies on the wall’ for the rest of the conference.
(6). ENDING – Watch the tempo of the press conference and try to end it on high note even if you have a few minutes remaining. It’s better to end the presser after a strong question, then let it drag if questions are few and far between.
(7.) FOOD – I’ve got several tips regarding press sessions surrounding food and eating.
- When matching the menu and food items to a theme, please make sure the food is edible. Just because it would be cute to complement the food to the theme, do make sure its delicious too.
- Be sure to not announce anything while the critics are eating because they will not be able to type notes or twitter out your content. Wait to present your content once they finish their dessert.
These are just few top line points to follow. If others appear during this year’s Tour, I’ll let you know. But, mostly, the professionals who organize these events are extremely talented at their jobs and produce informative and creative sessions that are spot on perfect!