Taking a Stand for Mental Health: Are Audio-only Press Conferences the Wave of the Future?

Naomi Osaki

Number one ranked tennis player Naomi Osaka shined a huge spotlight not only on the importance of self-care and mental health, but also on the age-old practice of in-person Press Conferences when she decided to withdraw from the French Open because of bouts of depression and social anxiety.

In her tweet, she stated, “The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018.”

Osaka’s honesty and vulnerability regarding such a taboo subject should be applauded. Also, to be applauded are her sponsors which include Nike and Mastercard who have come to her defense in support of her decision to withdraw from the tournament.

I’m no athlete, nor a celebrity, but I’ve been in public relations for over a decade and what I know for sure is that having cameras in your face, asking a plethora of questions can be overwhelming and inundating, even for an experienced pro like me.

Osaka’s decision I believe will continue to reverberate for some time on the need for in-person press conferences going forward.

WHAT ABOUT AUDIO-ONLY PRESS CONFERENCES?

Consider this, the podcast industry experienced explosive growth in 2020.

The year started with roughly 900k total podcasts in existence and ended with more than 1.6M. Now, there are more than 2M podcasts available for your listening pleasure.

There’s a reason for this growth.

People are loving audio…

… There’s less prep with audio, you don’t need to do your hair and makeup, you’re less self-conscious and some people shine even brighter through the medium.

Enter…Clubhouse

Unless you’ve been on an internet sabbatical, you’ve likely heard about the audio-based, invite-only social networking app.

The beauty of Clubhouse is that it’s voice only.

Because of the social anxiety experienced by Osaka, Clubhouse would’ve been a great alternative for her to fulfill her contractual obligations and still speak to the press, but on her terms. She could have simply opened up a closed room for only press to hear, or she could have opened a room for all her supporters to hear her. A Clubhouse moderator, like myself, could have fielded the questions before she answered them, and everyone would’ve been served.

Going forward, I see the need for the media to adapt. If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us the value of life, the importance of connection and the need to adapt and change, sometimes very quickly.

3 THINGS PR PROS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CLUBHOUSE

  1. The world is in the midst of a social audio domination. With the rise of podcasts (about 2 million), and now Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Fireside, voice-based communications should now be a crucial part of your PR offerings.

2. Clubhouse gives PR Pros a new way to communicate on behalf of their clients. Senior Editor for PRNEWS Nicole Schuman wrote an article entitled: Osaka Fallout: Are Press Conferences Still the Answer? Instead of doing the traditional press conference, why not have an audio-only press conference on Clubhouse? As PR Pros we need to continue to innovate and advocate on behalf of our clients. The client is always right.

3. The fastest way to develop know, like and trust for your clients is to create an emotional connection with their supporters. Voice-based conversations do that instantly. You know immediately by the tone of someone’s voice if you want to continue the conversation or end it.

I challenge the Tennis Federation to look into audio-only options when it comes to the obligatory press conferences their athletes are required to attend.

Lastly, I want to thank Naomi for her bravery. May this time off help comfort and refresh you.

If you would like to learn more about how you can leverage Clubhouse for your PR clients, join my PR CliffNotes for ClubHouse Mighty Network.

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Meiko S. Patton

Meiko S. Patton

Learn How to Monetize Clubhouse. https://bit.ly/clubleadgen

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