Media outlets are in the news business. And as you can tell from the close resemblance between the words “news” and “new,” the mission of the media is to bring you interesting and timely reports on what’s new. If you’re an entrepreneur or organizational marketer and you feed your news about what’s new to the media at the appropriate time, you’re helping both them and yourself. You give them news to share, and you receive credibility and exposure to potential customers.
Ah, but what is the appropriate time? Media deadlines are the most important element in proper timing. Follow these guidelines to make the publicity process work in your favor.
In one group are radio, television, newspapers and web sites, which have short-range deadlines, and in another group are magazines, which have considerably longer-range deadlines. For the short-range deadline media, one week is generally enough lead time for those media outlets to pick up your story. For magazines, the lead time depends on the publication schedule: Monthly magazines need to receive your press releases or pitches 3-6 months ahead of time, while those published every other month need even longer lead time. Weekly magazines need 3-6 weeks advance notice, whenever possible.
When announcing events or looking for coverage for them (as opposed to, say, announcing a new product or providing perspective on a trend), you often need to add a few weeks to the lead time, because daily media often have a weekly rather than daily publication schedule for their calendar listings. That is, upcoming events get published in a batch once a week on Thursday or Friday rather than every day.
The biggest timing complications arise with a product launch, because magazines need to receive your publicity materials 2-3 months before the newspapers, radio, TV and websites in order for them to feature new stuff around the same time. If you rely simply on press release distribution for publicity, either magazine coverage will lag way behind the other media or the newspaper etc. coverage will be premature.
Solve that dilemma by sending publicity materials directly to the magazines at least three months before you want the coverage to appear, then wait until the week before you want the coverage to hit up the newspapers, radio, TV and websites, either by contacting them directly as well or by doing a general press release distribution. That’s right – do publicity in two batches.
Using the guidelines above, plan your timing carefully so you don’t have publicity appearing before your product is ready for purchase or after it’s too late for customers to plan to attend your events.
Bonus Tip: Improve your timing even more by looking up or requesting a publication’s “editorial calendar.” This is an issue-by-issue rundown of planned topics – for instance, the March 16 issue will cover network security, the March 23 issue software upgrades and so on. If you dovetail your publicity with a particular publication’s editorial calendar, you’re practically a shoo-in!