There’s a lot to consider in any press release – a great angle, solid quotes and easily understood information. But one of the key elements that many forget to factor in is that timing is everything.
Quite simply the timing of when you issue a press release can make or break your opportunity to gain coverage, and there are a host of reasons why time can affect your media campaign.
The lull and the rush
News is an industry unlike any other as any journalist will be happy to reveal. In the media industry, a day can shift on a dime.
Most newsrooms start their day with a fair idea of what will go into the bulletin or the paper, but there’s a good chance by the end of it something will have changed.
Some days see them scrambling for news, some days see them overwhelmed by it, but the upshot for anyone seeking media coverage is that nothing is guaranteed.
That said, there are a host of ways to maximise your chances when it comes to timing your media release…
Avoid the busy periods
While news can be unpredictable, there are a few events throughout the year that are likely to elicit a news rush.
Big events include elections, the state and federal budgets, the lead up to Christmas, or significant national and international events like the Commonwealth or Olympic Games, CHOGM or APEC summits.
These are events where the spotlight will firmly shine on a specific occasion and there will be little room for much else accept breaking events.
Quite simply news happens – and the major event that affects the most people will always supersede all else.
When a breaking event occurs, a lot of other items get cast by the wayside and even a front page story can potentially hit the dirt.
A standout example to consider is Princess Diana’s death. That event saw pretty much every newsroom and celebrity magazine globally scrap their entire previous lineup and start all over again in a bid to get the news out.
Breaking events also extend to natural disasters, political revelations like resignations or affairs. And when news like this happens, something’s gotta give.
If your story is the one that hits the cutting room floor, that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant or interesting, it has just been superseded on that day, at that time in that place.
Beware the quiet stints
Just as some news periods are notoriously busy, others are traditionally quiet with limited journalists on deck, and less room for coverage.
Times like this include after hours, weekends or even Christmas.
While the lead-up is busy, Christmas to New Year’s sees newsrooms running on skeleton staff, and what they’ll be covering differs only slightly from year to year.
At Christmas the focus is on retail statistics, how people are celebrating, the weather forecast, charity and the road toll. The week after it’s all about the year in review, Boxing Day Sales, and plans for New Year’s Eve.
Quite simply, unless it’s a massive or breaking event, other items tend to be off-topic and won’t get a look-in for coverage during this time.
Due to the general shutdown of business over this quiet period, it also means less advertising in newspapers and that means smaller editions, so now there’s also less room to cover anything else.
Know the timeframe and deadline
The media works to varying timeframes, deadlines and lead times, depending on what medium they are.
Magazines can work up to three months in advance, as can some websites. This means you’ll need to cater to these outlets early, especially if you’re looking to release time-specific content like seasonal wardrobe or fitness tips.
Radio, newspapers, some blogs and TV tend to have daily deadlines, but that doesn’t mean leaving your media release until the very last moment. If you’re working towards a time-sensitive event give them enough time to flag it’s occurring, undertake the necessary interviews and get the item out in advance.
Too often a great press release hits a newsroom but can’t be tied into coverage because it’s simply arrived too late. Say for example you’ve put together a release about mental health to tie into RU OK? day. The time to release that is 7 to 10 days in advance as a minimum and two weeks prior where possible.
This gives an outlet the time to put it in their diary, allocate someone to follow-up, and put together a story that may run on or before the day.
Timing a response
If news occurs that directly affects your industry or business, you might be interested in issuing a press release as a response. If that’s the case time is absolutely of the essence. The time to issue that response is that day, as early as possible, not the next day or the week after.
Importantly, you need to get it to a newsroom before or when they are writing a story and bear in mind articles for daily TV and newspapers are often locked and loaded by about 3pm.
Key takeaways and tools
- Timing is just as important as the angle and content when it comes to creating a media release.
- Beware issuing releases at a time when the focus is elsewhere. They can get lost.
- Beware sending press releases when the media is running on skeleton staff.
- Know the lead time and deadlines of the organisations you’re aiming for.
- Give the media enough time to be interested and compile a story (two weeks prior is ideal).
- Media Connections has a host of tools available for planning press releases and maximising timing, including:
- Our weekly Media Prompt emailed out to our members
- The 10 Release Ideas that appear in the Resource Room each month
- News Source Plus members have access to the Key Dates calendar to help you plan, and some amazing courses too!
- There are also further resources and templates available at the Resource Room
Get your timing right and you increase your chances of a Media Win!