Holding a press conference

Holding a press conference on World Hepatitis Day, by SOS Hépatites Burkina, Burkina Faso

SOS Hépatites Burkina is part of the SOS Hépatites Federation, a group of NGOs working across the francophone world to eliminate viral hepatitis. SOS Hépatites Burkina is its group in the African country Burkina Faso. Last World Hepatitis Day (WHD) they hosted a press conference to launch the Find the Missing Millions campaign. They invited broadcast, print and online media, amplifying their message to the public to get tested and calling on all stakeholders to intensify their efforts in the fight against hepatitis. This is how they did it.

To mark WHD last year we launched the Find the Missing Millions (FMM) campaign. As we wanted to spread the messages of the campaign far and wide, we decided to hold a press conference at the launch. The media is one of the best ways to reach different sections of the general public.

In Burkina Faso requests for media coverage incurs fees. Instead, we therefore sent newsletters to the media outlets we wanted present informing them of the launch event and outlining the timeline of the press conference. We also included a programme of our WHD activities.

On the day itself, twenty-four journalists turned up. We registered them and made sure everyone had received the day’s schedule. We wanted to make sure that the journalists present would find the press conference engaging. We therefore held the press conference on the official launch day of our FMM campaign and activities. Our President presented on why we should find the missing millions. And a nationally-celebrated hepato-gastroenterologist presented on the state of play of hepatitis B and C in Burkina Faso.

We found that getting a celebrity on board also helped boost media interest and so we invited a Burkinabe music star to join our press conference. She got screened for viral hepatitis in front of the press to send the message out that everyone should get tested. She also appealed to the authorities to offer the hepatitis B vaccination to all new-borns and to make sure screening and testing facilities are available across the country.

When all the presentations and discussions were over we opened the floor to questions and the journalists conducted interviews.

Following the press conference the campaign was relayed by almost all the media outlets present, meaning our messages reached populations across our country.

Whilst obtaining press coverage and media interest can be expensive in our country, it is crucial for social mobilisation and generating real political change.”

Top tips for success

  • Send press releases to the media as well as inviting them to a press conference
  • Ensure you have speakers and activities that are worth media attention 
  • Ensure there is an opportunity for questions and individual interviews