Earlier this week, I had the privilege of handling the media relations for East Baltimore Development Inc. to promote their press conference where they received a $12 million grant for after-school programs for four inner-city schools. The program is called Elev8, and it’s a national program that’s been deployed in New Mexico, Oakland, Chicago and now Baltimore.
If you work in PR, then you know the press conference is a somewhat antiquated tactic for getting coverage. One main issue is that most news organizations are strapped for staff, between buyouts, layoffs or just simply going out of business. Although we had a number of high profile officials from Baltimore and the funding organization, we knew it would be a challenge to actually get media to come to the event.
So, we decided to live stream the event.
Here are a few things I observed during the entire experience that I think PR people should pay attention to if they try live streaming events:
- Backup your technology: We thoroughly tested the live stream on the day prior to the event. We tested it using a WAN, as well as an air card. However, the day of the event, both the wireless network and the air card were buggy. We got it to work in time for the press conference, but it wasn’t without trying and re-trying the signal. Your best bet is not to rely on a wireless connection if possible. It seems that with the excess of audio/video/mobile technology in the room, the wireless signal was not as clear.
- Get the right technology: This one was probably avoidable, but I didn’t realize you couldn’t live stream with a digital camcorder. I had to use a web cam. The good news is that there are some very affordable, high-quality web cams out there.
- Propagate your link: This should be obvious, but it’s worth noting that we promoted the link to everyone who was invited to the press conference, not only the media but also partners and organizations who are participating in the Elev8 program. And, of course, I tweeted while each speaker was up, including a link to the live stream. In total, we only had about 17 viewers of the live stream, but I later learned of several members of the media had opted to watch it online, rather than spend the time coming to the press conference in person. And that was the exact target I was going for.
If you’re doing any kind of press event, I highly encourage you to live stream it. I mean, why not? The technology is available fairly inexpensively, you can expand your audience by sharing the link online, and you can get some media members to watch who might not be able to show up.