“Deadlines are sacred and are important to people in the media. If you have anything to do with the media, find out when their deadlines are and work with them,” explains Adrian Wheeler of the Public Relations Consultants Association.
Providing that your release isn't time sensitive, you can determine when you want it distributed. The best time to release it is when a journalist is least busy and has the most time to devote to newsgathering.
To be sure, journalists' biggest pet peeve is receiving calls from press officers on deadline. We all have deadlines, so picture receiving a call from a chatty press officer when it's your busiest moment. You're about to finish that last order, leave for a client meeting or make last minute preparations for a trip when the phone rings. What happens? You either ignore the call or shout obscenities down the phone.
So if you are going to work with the press you must understand how they work. Most journalists feel overworked and underpaid. So hearing about how you closed your latest big deal at the worst time of the day or week won't go over too well.
However, if given enough time, a journalist will be more open to listen to why your new product, project, marketing objective makes sense to write about. Also, the less rushed a journalist is, the less likely errors will appear or vital information be left out.
Dealing with deadlines requires you to know the publications and journalists you are dealing with. Before you pitch a release to the press, find out about them.
Are they interested in hearing about such stories? Which journalist writes on that topic? Getting full-page coverage in Ironmongers Weekly is not going to help your cause – unless your business is an ironmongers. Likewise getting no coverage is of no benefit.
Weekly publications that come out on Monday are more likely to be open to releases on a Monday as that is when it is least busy. Most weekly publications will be sent to the printer on a Friday, meaning all reporting must be done by Thursday or Friday morning at the very latest. Work therefore tends to get busier as the week progresses.
Daily publications, such as newspapers, should be contacted as early in the day as possible and never after four in the evening – unless requested by a journalist to do so or the story is genuinely a whopper and must be released at that moment.
Monthly publications often need to know about news articles as much as a month in advance! Wire services and internet news sources can receive information at any time but chances are the earlier in the day you can get information to them the better.
It is also important to use publications' editorial calendars. These are usually written by publications early in the year and will give a loose outline as to what features, surveys, special supplements or profiles the publication will write about. Generally, these editorial calendars are created to alert potential advertisers that these topics will be written about so they can place ads.
However, they offer a good opportunity for you to get journalists to either write about a product or service you provide or give another mention about a product or service you have already pitched at them. Most publications willingly distribute them to all who ask.
Also, it bears noting that two of the driest times of the year from a news point of view for most journalists are August and December, a time when most of the world seems to be on holiday. However, journalists are still required to put out product and churn out copy.
For that reason, these are good times to distribute releases as chances are it will be given more prominence by members of the press as it will have less competitors for the news space.