I've never been a fan of news conferences and special events whose primary objective is to generate publicity. Too much can go wrong, and most of those things are beyond our control.
Hurricane Sandy, headed to straight to New York City in a matter of hours, is a good example of what can go wrong. Weather forecasters are calling it "the perfect storm," although for anyone who had a news conference or special event planned for yesterday, today or tomorrow, it's far from perfect.
Sandy has been dominating the news in the northeast for the past three or four days, and local TV stations here have been covering little else. It's almost like the presidential race, the Middle East and the economy just don't exist.
News conferences -- unless weather-related and from official sources -- are dead meat. The same can be said for publicity events. And the focus will stray on the storm and its aftermath for days to come, knocking other news out of the picture.
This is why I'm a believer in good old-fashioned media relations, where you get your message out in a targeted way, working with key media almost one-on-one. Yes, the effort can be boosted with things like PR Newswire and mass distribution, but I much prefer small-group or one-on-one sessions with the media whenever possible.
Because with all the planning it takes for a news conference or special event, there are some things you just can't plan for. Here comes the wind and rain.