We all have deadlines. In the agency game, the deadlines can feel like they’re never ending. “Project A is due next Wednesday.” “That case study for Client X needs to be ready to go by end of week.” It can be daunting.
In the news business, deadlines are a way of life. They don’t come next Wednesday or for an event at the end of the week. They are daily. And with the advent of online sites and 24/7 news, those deadlines are now hourly.
As public relations and media relations professionals, we at Mercury Labs do not and should not demand that our clients be at the beck and call of a reporter or editor. However, we provide education and training (both formally and informally) about why and how to understand and respect media deadlines.
First the why:
While there certainly are publications and programs that have longer deadlines, the vast majority of today’s journalists need information quickly, more quickly than ever before. In news terms, they have to “feed the beast.”
The impact of a quick response allows companies to be an active and positive part of most stories. There are, of course, those crisis situations, but that’s another blog post for another day.
I’m a fan of analogies, so let me put it this way: The early bird catches the worm. If you’re the first one called, or the first to respond to a reporter’s query, the likelier you are to end up in print, with a bigger impact in the story and with the added bonus of “being there” when a reporter needed something. You may need them to “be there” down the line, so this is a good thing.
The converse can also be true. If a reporter calls wanting an interview and for whatever reason, they are denied, then it’s a lost opportunity to get in front of customers or a constituency. Before making that judgment, remember that earned media has been cited as the number one way to increase brand awareness. Seeing a brand name in print or on TV can really validate the brand and help outshine the competition. Often, it really is worth pushing back other priorities to address a media opportunity.
Of course, there are times when the return is simply not worth your time and effort. Hey, it happens.
While it may run counter to common sense, if the opportunity isn’t important, we drop it. A simple thank you to the reporter for their time keeps the relationship alive for future stories.
If the interview is important, well, now’s the time we bring out our U.N. ambassador’s hat. As sweetly, succinctly and stringently as we can, we talk to our clients about why this interview is important, what messages to focus on and what potential surprises we anticipate.
Just like any journalist would do, we ask the 5 W’s (and one H, How). We have those answers ready when clients ask why this is important and why right this minute!
It’s up to us, as media relations pros, to understand why it’s important to respect the deadline.
But it’s the synergy between our media relationships and our clients’ commitment to public relations that makes it work in the end.
You are reading Atomic80, the nickname for the element Mercury and the blog for Mercury Labs, a company focused on the science of cinema and communications. Contact us to learn more about how Mercury Labs can help transform your raw ideas into compelling video and/or PR programs.