When is the best time to approach journalists?
At the end of this blog, I’ll share some tactical tips on best time of the day, week, year to contact journalists. But I want to kick off with a much more important consideration for any business considering going out for media coverage. When are you most likely to get the coverage you want and which will grow your business?
The answer is when you are media-ready; when you know enough about your business and how to collaborate with journalists to communicate it.
This can be early in the life of your business if you choose to make it a priority. And I would advocate that because turning investigative journalist on your own business, in preparation for media work, has benefits way beyond getting great news coverage.
Einstein said, ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’
If you can’t explain your business simply to a journalist then you don’t understand it well enough and you need to find the ‘holes in the story’ before journalists.
So how do you get media-ready?
Many businesses make the incorrect assumption that you are ready to approach journalists when you have a ‘great story’. But hitting upon a great story is easy. Frankly, if you don’t really care where your story appears or if your business is referenced at all let alone correctly, then anybody can get media coverage tomorrow.
The real skill lies in making yourself a compelling source with a story which only you can tell. That takes work. But if you get that right then you reap benefits which match the risks of working with journalists.
The value of third-party endorsement from media is that it is independent and it’s that independence that persuades an audience of the value of what you do. But that independence comes at a cost. Journalists are under no obligation to write what you tell them. They won’t give you sight of what they write before it gets published. They are very unlikely to make post publication corrections, if that is even possible.
So before you take that risk you need to make sure you can describe your business in around 50 words and within them explain:
· Who you are
· What do you do
· How do you do it
· Where and when do you do it
Once you have these 50 words in place it makes it a lot easier for you to come up with stories which are, crucially, tied into your business and position you as an expert.
If you want some help to work on this I offer various kinds of support. Take a look around my website at www.themediarelationscoach.com to find out what’s available. Or sign up to my newsletter for alerts.
When you feel media-ready, here is some guidance on when it’s best to approach journalists:
Mornings generally tend to be busy times for journalists where they are focused on stories they’ve already committed to and are on deadline to get them done. You are better to make contact in afternoons when journalists can be planning ahead and they’ve filed their current stories. In some newsrooms, some journalists are allocated to working on the day ahead and their shifts tend to start later in the day as they can go on to work late into the night, even overnight.
Radio or television or news agency
Contact planning desk two days before you’d like your story to appear. Be prepared to be asked to call back the following day too, and to repeat the process!
Find out the day the paper comes out and approach them that afternoon as at that point they have a whole week to cover your news.
In some cases, they may have an online version that can run news earlier, so you may appear online before in print.
Approach their advertising department and ask for their editorial calendar with submission and publication dates. This will help you see opportunities. Monthly magazines tend to have one-to-two-month gaps between submission and publication. Business magazines can be just a month as they want their news to be current. However, magazines with less time-sensitive features can have two-month gaps, known as ‘lead-in times’.
Podcasts and blogs
Podcasts and blogs have a real mix of dead- lines and the best thing to do is identify your top targets and study their pages or ask them for their deadlines before you work on a submission.