yearlong approach consists of two strategies:
- Timing your existing stories (new product introductions, oddball
promotions, business page features, etc.) to fit the needs of the media during
particular times of the year.
Before we run through the four seasons of publicity, a few words about
lead time. In this age of immediacy (only a few seconds separate a Matt Drudge
or a CNN from writing a story and putting it before millions), its easy to
forget that, for many print publications and TV shows, it can be weeks -- and
sometimes months -- before a completed story sees the light of day.
- Crafting new stories to take advantage of events, holidays and seasonal
The phrase lead time simply refers to the amount of time needed for a
journalist to complete a story for a particular issue of a magazine or episode
of a TV news program. For example, a freelancer for an entertainment magazine
may need to turn in a story on Christmas movies by September 15. Thats a
lead time of three months, time needed for the editor to review and change the
piece, the issue to be typeset and printed and distributors to place the issues
on newsstands before December. Lead time can range from a day (for hard news
pieces in newspapers) to a few days (newspaper features) to a few weeks (weekly
magazines) to many months.
The longest leads are the domain of womens books
like Good Housekeeping and Better Homes & Gardens. These publications often
have a lead time of up to six months, which means they need information for
their Christmas issues as early as May! Heres a tip to help you discover
the lead time of a particular publication youre targeting: call the
advertising department of the publication and request a media kit. Since
advertisers need to know when their ads must be submitted, each issues
lead time is clearly stated in the media kit. Factor the lead time into your
planning as you look over the following sections. If you have a great story
idea for Rolling Stones summer issues, you need to be on the ball well
before Memorial Day.
Seasons of Publicity:|
January - March
What the Medias Covering: Early in the year, the media is looking ahead.
Its a great time to pitch trend stories, marketplace predictions, previews
of things to expect in the year ahead, etc. If a new President is being
inaugurated, youll see lots of Will the new administration be good
for the (textile/film/cattle ranching/Internet/...or any other) industry?
types of pieces. This is a good time to have something provocative, or even
controversial, to say about your industry.
The media also likes this time of year to run get your personal
house in order sorts of pieces. Tax planning, home organizing, weight
loss, etc. Anything thats geared toward helping people keep their New
Years resolutions can work here.
Key Dates and Events: Can you come up with a story angle to tie your
business into an event that typically generates lots of coverage? Put on your
thinking cap -- I bet you can! Here are some key events during the First
Quarter: Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament, Easter, The Academy Awards.
April - June
What the Medias Covering: An anything goes time of year.
With no major holidays or huge events, April is a good time to try some of your
general stories (business features, new product stuff, etc.) Light, fun stories
work here, as a sense of spring fever takes hold of newsrooms
(journalists are human, you know. Theyre just as happy winter is over as
you are and its often reflected in the kind of stories they choose to
run.). As May rolls around, thoughts turn to summer. Now theyre looking
for summer vacation pieces, outdoor toys and gadgets, stories about safety
(whether automotive or recreational), leisure activities, things to do for kids
and so on.
Key Dates and Events: Baseball opening day, tax day (April 15), spring
gardening season, Memorial Day, end of school, summer vacation.
July - September
| What the Medias
Covering: The dog days of summer are when smart publicity seekers really make
hay. Folks at PR firms are on vacation, marketing budgets are being conserved
for the holidays and reporters are suddenly accessible and open to all sorts of
things. Get to work here, with creative, fun angles. Entertainment-themed
pieces do well in the summer, anything with celebrities works, lighter business
stories, new products, trend pieces, technology news, back to school
education-themed articles, you name it. Reporters are about to get deluged once
again come September, so use this window of opportunity wisely.
Key Dates and Events: July 4th, summer movies, summer travel, back to
October - December
What the Medias Covering: The busiest time of the media calendar, the
Fourth Quarter is when the business media turns serious and the lifestyle media
thinks Holidays, Holidays, Holidays. Business angles need to be hard news.
Fluffy trend pieces wont cut it, as business editors begin to take stock
of the state of the economy and the market. Its a tough time to put out a
new product release. For the non-business media, think Christmas. Christmas
travel, Christmas gifts, Christmas cooking, whatever. If you have a product or
service that can be given as a holiday gift, get on the stick early.
Nail down lead times for the publications youre targeting, call
to find out whos handling the holiday gift review article and get your
product in the right persons hands in plenty of time -- along with a pitch
letter or release that makes a strong case about how what a novel, unusual or
essential gift your product makes. After Christmas, you have a brief window for
Best of the Year, Worst of the Year and Year in
Review pieces. Be creative -- the media loves these things.
Key Dates and Events: Labor Day, World Series, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah,
Christmas, New Years Eve.
|news etc on|
contracts always included the splash penalty clause - in which marketing
consultants agreed to walk the plank if their brilliant ideas didn't work.|