"Cindy, where's that story? I need it yesterday!"
"Coming right up, boss. I'll have it to you soon," Cindy shouted back.
"Yesterday isn't soon enough!"
Cindy clicked on her screen. "You have mail." She looked at the messages. "Three news releases," she murmured. "I don't have time for this now." [delete] [delete] [delete]
Stop! Was that your news release Cindy just deleted? Too bad you sent it to her at the wrong time. You may have heard that "timing is everything" and that is even more true in a newsroom. But how do you know when is the best time to send a news release?
Media relations is an art more than a science, so there is no single rule. If there was, everyone would be a media star. Here are a few guidelines to help you zoom ahead of your competition for the media's attention:
Each type of media and each type of journalist is different. Here are just a few of the variables:
National or local media
TV, newspaper, radio or magazine
News reporter, features reporter or columnist
Consumer magazine or trade journal
Daily, weekly or monthly publication
Print or electronic
Each company or organization is different, as is its news. Here are just a few of the variables:
Local, national or international operations
Pre-scheduled news release, or last-minute reaction to today's news.
Product announcement, policy announcement, financial announcement
Bearing in mind the wide range of news you might announce and the wide range of media targets, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. tends to be the best time of day to release news. You want to give the assignment editor time to send them out to cover your news. If you hope to get into the noon news, you don't want to go too late, because you run into TV deadlines. Early afternoon is a second-best time, but if you get much past 2:30, you will catch Cindy's [delete] button at most daily newspapers and television stations.
I have been asked about the best day of the week to send out a news release. There isn't one. I have seen plenty of debates on this. From personal experience, the only difference I ever noticed is when I could pick a slow news day. For instance, if in your city the daily newspaper can be reached on Sunday and not too much tends to happen that day in your subject area, you may find it easier to get into Monday's newspaper than if you try later in the week. But on average, there is not much difference.
Best time of month, year, etc? Again, there is no single best time. There is one golden rule. Do not send out a release when the world is wrapped up in some all-consuming event like the death of Princess Diana or the attack on the World Trade Center. Remember how much TV airtime and newspaper print space were devoted to those events? The media and its audiences had other things on their minds than your news. You can't control events, but you can control the timing of your release (most of the time).
How far in advance should you send out your release? Some book reviewers usually need several months. Others don't want to see your release until the book is on the store shelves. Many consumer magazines have a six-month editorial preview. Features editors often run several weeks ahead of time, but sometimes squeeze things in on short notice. News departments want only breaking news. Yesterday's news is ... well, yesterday's news. Your release is already forgotten.
Does all this sound confusing. It is. The bottom line in any marketing is to know your target market and give it what it wants. Same with the media. The guidelines above give a very abbreviated list of what you need to consider. If you are still unsure, a media coach might be a good investment. But be forewarned ? find someone with enough experience and success to coach you in the right direction.
About The Author
After a decade and a half as one of Canada's top consumer advocates, often conducting over 600 media interviews each year, David Leonhardt is sharing his knowledge with others. Pick up a copy of his special report "Get In The News!" at http://www.TheHappyGuy.com/PR.html Home page is http://www.TheHappyGuy.com