By Bram Weinstein/@RealBramW
Immediacy is the lifeblood of communication especially in this day and age where information is spread socially in such an efficient manner. Sporting events and the coverage of them hold an advantage over the majority of other genres due to their ability to elicit immediate reaction and opinion that changes through the course of the event. So far, nothing has come along to replicate the immediacy of sports. Some new events and entertainment events carry the same effect, i.e. The Oscars, the State of the Union address, Election night and trials. But the majority of news cannot be turned around quickly enough before the viewer, if socially linked in, won’t already know.
Live press conferences allow for real time attention and the professional and successful broadcaster will know not only how to handle the coverage of them but how to elicit strong reaction and opinion to what just happened. A coach was surprisingly fired after what appeared to be a strong season. A team trades away a star player. An unknown injury is revealed. An athlete speaks to the media for the first time after an arrest. All of these moments happen in real time which forces viewers and listeners to stay with you and avoid just waiting for recaps via twitter or any other social media outlet.
Lets start with teasing the presser…
Often times visual broadcasting outlets will use a live shot of a podium to alert viewers that something is about to happen that they should not miss. In 2015, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver was scheduled to address the media regarding how the league would respond to leaked tapes of Clippers owner Donald Sterling who was caught using over racially insensitive language. No one knew exactly what Silver was going to say. The sports viewer needed to see this live, so throughout the morning leading up to the presser, we showed the room where Silver would speak and the reporters as they filed in. The job of the broadcaster is to emphasize that this is about to happen live and you are going to hear it first.
Once the subject takes the podium, getting into the press conference is paramount in terms of EFFICIENCY.
Can you quickly describe what viewers can expect to hear from the subject right before they say it? And more importantly, can you do this in a manner that does not cut off anything the subject says. Think like a DJ who has a perfect countdown to when the lyrics begin in a song they are playing. They are aware of the exact timing of this. You will in most cases not have that luxury so you are guessing. But even if the subject doesn’t speak immediately when you throw to the event live, it is OK to let the silence speak for itself. Trying to time finishing your thought with the subject starting his is a near impossibility.
Can you vamp?
What if you believe a press conference is starting immediately. Often times, a public relations member will go on stage to alert the assembled media and those networks willing to cover the event live a timed warning of when the press conference will begin. This allows everyone to be ready and not be in commercial break. There are occasions when the subject does not take the podium at the moment you expect. Can you talk about the subjects that matter most leading into the press conference? Once again, preparation is key. If this is a topic that may need some professional assistance, i.e. a medical or legal issue, hopefully your producers provided an expert to join to fill this time and you can ask them open ended questions about what they expect to hear and what the viewer should be waiting to hear about. If you are alone, it is imperative that you have a full knowledge of what is about to take place, what is expected to take place and what the ramifications of any particular announcement should be.
Once the press conference begins, your job is different. Now it’s time to make sure you are able to listen to the proceedings. This is a skill I”ll talk about later this week.
In the meantime, got a comment or want info on speaking engagements? Email me: email@example.com and if you’re on the West Coast, come see me in LA March 13th. Details here.
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Check out my Podcast: Talking Heads with Bram Weinstein