Media Training: Surviving a tough press conference

Today, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) addressed the media about its role in the Bali Nine arrests. Although press conferences are becoming less common, there are certain occasions when they are necessary.  Times when your organisation truly has news to present, to rebut or to explain. In the case of the AFP, the Commissioner Andrew Colvin held the conference to defend its role and address incorrect statements made of police officers involved in the case.
If the subject is controversial, like accusations the AFP has endured over the ten-year period of the Bali Nine arrests, make sure you have your team of experts on-hand. Each spokesperson should be on the same page.  They should be unified in their responses.  Specific questions and answers should be prepared well in advance and if possible, role play before the event, so everyone feels confident and ready. Be sure to watch your interview back and be aware of any facial expressions or body language that could be misinterpreted.
If the pressure of holding a press conference is too much and you want to bypass traditional media completely, get your news out via social media. If your news is truly newsworthy, journalists will pick up on it. Or, you can offer an exclusive to one outlet, which almost always guarantees coverage however, you might put off other media by not giving them the option of covering your news.
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