When companies want to make an announcement, they naturally want to press on and push their news out. However, there are some important factors to consider in the strategic timing of a PR campaign. PR has its own pace and the worst thing a brand can do is to get out of the starting gate too soon, only to receive ‘off-message’ or no media coverage and coming across as irrelevant.
Attracting media coverage is not about luck. It is about doing the research and background work to create opportunities. So how should companies plan their PR campaigns to ensure they land media coverage?
You have one chance to catch a journalist’s attention with an announcement. So, you need to make sure you present a powerful enough story. When it comes to reporting on new products or services, journalists want ones that are actually up and running. When your product is ready, you should pitch it to a journalist 1-3 weeks ahead of the launch to give them time to write the article, submit it for edits, and then have it published. Journalists are busy and if you do not give them sufficient notice, they will probably pass on covering your story.
There are announcements – such as funding, partnerships, and new hires – which are not time dependent. You should schedule to pitch these type of announcements because it helps to create a strong narrative. You want to fit your story into the bigger picture of the growth of your brand.
Offer an Exclusive
Exclusives are appealing to journalists because they mean no one else has the same story. The journalist gets to break the news to the public. The important aspect of managing exclusives is that you cannot reach out to more than one journalist at once. As a result, the media outreach process is quite drawn out for exclusives since you need to offer a 24-48 hour grace period for each outlet.
Embargo Your News
If you have major news to share, embargoing your release could be a wise decision. Applying an embargo enable you to give your key target outlet the scoop on what you’re about to announce. It’s something you should be thinking about weeks before you are ready to make an announcement – so a publication has enough time to prepare and edit a quality story about your company.
If you have not heard back from a journalist after 3-4 days, send a quick follow-up email. The secret is to offer something new or exclusive in your follow-up that wasn’t in your original press release or pitch. If your press release was about a new product or service, your follow-up might include a customer testimonial or links to data or research supporting the need for your new product or service.
Quality vs Quantity
When considering PR, know that the most prolific campaign may not always achieve your business objectives. When push comes to shove, value quality over quantity. A targeted approach to PR and to the press is always the most impactful in reaching the right audiences. Know that getting the attention of the press is not always easy. Stay focused on creating a quality campaign, content, and connections, and keep preserving.
Landing your story in the media may feel like luck, but it really is hard work in disguise. You will have made endless calls and followed up with people all hours of the day. You have got do the work. So next time you get restless and want to speed up your PR campaign to rely on luck, take a long breath and plan and prepare.