Saturday, March 08, 2008

Brass Tack #10 - Give them time to work on your story

The late Douglas Adams may have loved the whooshing sound that deadlines make as they fly by, but this is a pleasure you have to forego if you want the news media to run your story.

Journalists are slaves to deadlines and the obvious piece of ‘brass tack’ advice here would be to get your information to journalists on time. But how much time do you give them?

If a story is big enough, you can get it to break on live radio within minutes of emailing or faxing your news release. If you want the story to be included in an entertainments page of a regional weekly newspaper, you may have to send them your news two weeks in advance.

There are two formulae that apply to deadlines. These are:

1. The bigger the story, the less time it will take news organisations to process it. They will want to be first with the news, even if it arrives a short time before their deadline.

2. The less time you give to journalists, the more important it is that the information you give them can be processed quickly.

This latter point could work to your advantage. A well-phrased press release that arrives just before the deadline could appear exactly as you wrote it – but that’s assuming that the editor is expecting the story and is willing to run it at all. That’s the risk you have to consider.

If at all possible – and especially if you are dealing with news organisations on a regular basis – get to know them. Find out about their usual working practices and accommodate them as much as possible. In time, as you build up a reputation as a reliable and regular supplier of good, easy-to-process news items, the editor may feel more confident that your stories can be processed quickly – and indeed give you positive coverage even if your organisation is having a bit of a reputation crisis.

But woe betide any PR person who does not take seriously the fact that journalist have deadlines. Your reward could be extreme vilification and overall damage to the reputation of PR as a reliable source of information.

Filed under:
media relations       press release       deadlines       journalists

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