Should I give a gift at a press conference?

Should I give a gift at a press conference?

A mug and USB powered warmer - a rather unique gift

A mug and USB powered warmer – a rather unique gift

Whether or not you should give a “gift” to journalists at a Press Conference is always a hotly debated topic.  It will depend on the culture of the country, the brand you are representing and also the PR agency as to whether or not this should be done.

Speaking from experience in as a PR Professional, as a journalist, and also as a friend of journalists – I would have to say IT DEPENDS.

It depends on such a wide range of factors that you should jump into it carefully in a fully considered manner.

And the decision to do this is very intertwined with the idea of – WHAT CAN I GIVE?

To my mind the “what” is much more important than the “whether”.

I’ve always believed that if you press conference gift can fulfill a few criteria, then giving a gift can be an invaluable brand builder.  If, however, you are at a loss as to what to give – and are just giving something out of “expectation”, then the gift will be a failure.

So what makes a good corporate gift?

What is the purpose of the Press Conference?

For a product launch (for eg: IT products) – a natural gift is the item that you are launching.  Bonus points here if you can customize it to the journalist or the publication by custom printing their name or logo on the gift.

Power Bank with Logo Custom Printed on it

Power Bank with Logo Custom Printed on it

As always though, there is a  caveat –you must tightly control your invite list.  You don’t want the situation arising whereby people are attending just to get the gift.  It is also the policy of some publishing houses (for example, SPH) that any gifts over a certain value must be “turned in” and shared around the office

 The Invite

The alternative here is deliver the gift as the invite – one item that was very well received that I have personally done is a model car, with custom printed stickers for my event (suggest by a Corporate Gift Consultant).  This was, I believe, successful for a few reasons

  1. It branded my event and gave it great “mind-share”
  2. It went directly to the people I wanted to influence
  3. It was obviously customized – so the recipients got a feeling of “they care”
  4. It looked great on a desk (we took the extra step of customizing the model of the car to the brand we were inviting)

What else can I give?

The list of items you can give is endless – it could be anything from a custom T-Shirt, to a key ring (I did receive a great Key ring attached to a custom thumbdrive with the press release inside), to a printed umbrella.

Custom printed umbrella

Custom printed umbrella

The trick is – it must link to who you are and what you do.

The best gifts are always the ones that are USEFUL, and DESIRABLE.

I am a great believer in customizing and personalizing any gift to the event – I’ve always tried to avoid the perception that I am just spending money to bribe, but rather to create the impression that I care, and especially to try and communicate something about the brand via the gift.

This is why a brainstorming session can be invaluable.

Other Events

For announcements, store openings or other similar events you must consider the nature of the news before talking about the gift.  For consumer products – a gift is acceptable.

One example of something you could do, for example – for the opening of a new Blood Donor Centre you could give a Custom Printed T-Shirt with the location of the blood bank and an exhortation to donate.

This can also be kept as a great corporate gift for donors.

The ultimate goal, to my mind, has always been to avoid idea of “giving a reward”, but rather, to use the gift to build knowledge of the brand, and provide a visual reminder of the message you want to communicate.

Another perennial favourite of mine is a customized USB drive,

Custom Printed USB Drive

Custom Printed USB Drive

with all the press release information, including high resolution photos, backgrounders and factsheets loaded onto it – a quirky enough thumb drive will be carried long term as a visual reminder of your brand.  Additionally, with the current cost of technology, preparing such an item can be much more cost effective than printing reams of paper! (you should still print, at the very least, the actual release though so that journalists can read through it at the conference itself)


P.S – here are some guides on writing a press release

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PR Web (you might need an account to access this)

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