Use the studio monitor to check your appearance
before air time, then maintain eye contact with
the reporter and ignore the monitor.
Never lose your temper, even if provoked.
Do not drum your fingers, twiddle your thumbs,
tap your feet or act nervously.
Do not look around the room for the answer. It
gives the impression of discomfort, bluffing or
Never speculate or comment on matters beyond
your cognizance or responsibility.
The news conference was briefly covered in
Chapter 3. It is held only when a command has
something specific to announce to the media that cannot
be handled in a news release or by a telephone call.
Another criterion for scheduling a news conference is if
it is requested by the news media. Under normal
conditions, the news conference should last no more
than 30 minutes.
The CO is normally the focal point in most news
conferences. However, if highly technical information
in several different fields are involved, the appropriate
subject matter expert should be on hand to answer
questions the CO directs to them. Regardless of the news
conference participants, the senior journalist and PAO
must thoroughly brief these individuals on the
procedures and limitations of the news conference.
The news conference should not be attended by
senior command personnel who do not have an active
role in the issue or the news conference. Their presence
can cause considerable embarrassment to everyone
involved. Reporters will direct most of their questions
to the subject matter experts by way of the CO.
A news conference can mark the first time an
individual in the command meets many reporters. A
good way to acclimate participants beforehand is by
conducting a mock news conference (commonly called
a murder board) with public affairs staff personnel
acting as news people. Your developing tougher than
normal questions will help you get the most out of the
Inviting News Media
Invitations to the media must be made well in
advance and timed with media deadlines in mind. When
possible, hold the conference on a day or at an hour when
coverage chances are most favorable. Initially,
invitations should go out by telephone, then followed up
in writing when possible. Let the reporters know what
will be covered during the news conference, but do not
disclose specific details. The day before the news
conference, appoint a staff member to call and remind
all the invited reporters. Make the written invitations
friendly and informal.
Appoint a point of contact in the public affairs office
to receive the media RSVP calls. This person must be
fully briefed on what information to get from the
respondents and what information must be given to the
caller. A media RSVP sheet (fig. 4-3) can speed up the
The first consideration in choosing a press
conference site is accessibility. No matter where you
intend to hold a news conference, the media must be able
to get to the site. Operational security is another major
consideration when choosing a site.
The site should be attractive, large enough to seat
the media comfortably and have the following features:
Electrical power for running equipment.
Television lighting sets have a 600-to 1,000 watt
bulb in each light. There are at least two and
probably three needed, depending on the site you
Facilities for filing stories. Have on hand an
adequate number of telephones, typewriters,
writing papers and pencils.
Enough parking. Electronic equipment is
heavy. The closer to the news conference area,
the better. If this is not possible, arrange for some
mode of transportation to move reporters to the
area or to allow them to unload their equipment
at the door and then park.
Adequate visual background. The visual back-
ground behind the podium should be suitable for
video and still photography. Avoid reflective
surfaces, geometric patterns or distracting
backgrounds. Use background colors that
contrast favorably with Navy uniforms.