You know the secret to successful comedy? … timing. However, it may surprise you to know that timing is also one of the most crucial factors in a successful public relations campaign.
In this first article for our new website I’m going to share with you some common examples of unintentionally ‘comedy’ press release scheduling – and how you can avoid them.
If you're going fishing, don't forget your bait
Imagine someone sends you a media release about something that actually interests you. It’s well-written, succinct and relevant (as a former journalist I can tell you that’s already putting you above 99 per cent of PR copy) so you click on the ‘call to action’. Then you find the website hasn’t been finished or the product isn’t actually available yet or… you get my point.
If you’re going to go out baiting journalists with a PR hook, there’d better be a worm at the end of it! Don't go out too early and always make sure you have your media content (pictures, reports, videos, b-roll, website etc.) ready before you get a bite. You only get one shot with journalists – never tease a hungry fish with an empty line.
Can it wait?
It can? Don’t send it out. For journalists, a key factor in deciding whether something is newsworthy or not is whether it's timely. If your media release isn't date sensitive then there's no urgency about it. If something else more timely comes along, it will knock your item right off the top spot.
You can’t always plan for this, of course. Breaking news happens all the time; but you can increase your chances by considering how you can make your release more relevant.
Good days to bury bad news
Is it Melbourne Cup tomorrow? Election time? Remembrance Day? Don't even think about it (especially the last one. Don't be that guy, just don't).
There used to be an old adage on Fleet Street that Friday afternoon was a good time to bury bad news because all the print journalists were in the pub. With today's 24/7 online news cycle, that controversial government report released without fanfare at 5pm on Friday is now likely to get picked up and tweeted. However, your release on your company's new waste initiative is probably less appealing to a journalist than the train home.
Know your deadlines
Every media outlet is different but they all have one thing in common: deadlines. These vary depending on the type of media. For example, a glossy women's magazine is often working three months ahead, while your local paper is working a week in advance. Evening TV and Radio shows are usually looking for stories first thing that morning. Know your market and pitch to suit the journalist's timeframe, not yours.
Finally, before you schedule a media release, don't forget to consider what happens after the article is published. The main point of any media release is the 'call to action' so make sure your audience can actually follow it through. The saddest tale in PR is always the promoter who finally succeeds in getting quality coverage for their gig, only to discover the ticket booking website isn't ready yet.