Magic Johnson and the art of the press conference

 Magic Johnson and the art of the press conferenceTwenty years ago Magic Johnson gave a landmark press conference.  He began with a simple statement:”Because of the HIV virus I will retire from the Lakers today.”

With those frank words he immediately became a key spokesman for HIV awareness.

The choreography and flow of the announcement was perfect.   Announcing his news he immediately addressed likely questions. How is his health? His wife? How did he know? He then spoke optimistically about his future, describing the diagnosis as “new chapter” in his life, before handing over to a panel of experts to give context to his news.  Perfect.

The PR Verdict: “A plus” for Magic Johnson and his handlers.

Looking back it is remarkable how this press conference, twenty years ago, changed the debate. With enthusiasm and energy he talked of a future and made it clear to the media what he wanted them to take away. His ten minute press conference started to change the vocabulary around the issue and ultimately the national conversation. As far as press conferences go, this set a new standard.

For the original press conference click here or watch below:


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