Peak Communicators
February 13, 2015

Don’t Scoop Yourself

When it comes to releasing your news, timing and distribution channels are everything. Not heeding them could lead to disastrous communications consequences.

To understand why, you need to know how journalists think and what they’re looking for.

Get internal buy-in

Before you release your story to media, make sure everyone in your organization is OK with it, that it is factually correct, that all stakeholders have been informed when it will be released, and that spokespeople are willing and ready to comment on it.

It’s a nightmare to “take back” a story once it’s been published. So make sure everyone in your organization is ready.

Share it with all media at once

Every journalist wants to be the first one to share a story with the public. Don’t expect journalists to cover a story that has already been covered one or more days earlier by another media outlet. By then it’s old news.

To guard against being old news, make sure you share your story with everyone at once, rather than sending it to one media outlet one day and another the next.

If you want further coverage days later, you’re going to have to add to the story by pitching a new angle and/or releasing new information.

Consider the “news cycle”

If you can choose a time to release your story, tell media about it on a day and at a time when they’re looking for stories.

  • 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday = good. Journalists have just sat down at their desks and are looking to see what’s going on that day for them to cover.
  • 4:00 p.m. on a Friday = bad. Journalists have already nailed down what they’re going to cover that day. Most have already done their interviews and created their stories. They’re ready for the weekend.
  • On a date when you know other news will be happening (e.g. election day) = bad.

These are the general trends. That said, media will always pick up a great story, and different media outlets have different news cycles.

Have your resources ready to share

If media decide to cover the story, they are going to be on deadline. And if they’re on deadline, so are you.

With little turnaround time, media could ask for any or all of:

  • Relevant photos and captions, including correct spellings of names, dates and locations for the photos
  • Interviews with spokespeople by phone or in person
  • Further factual information
  • Samples / site visits / concrete examples relevant to your story

Make sure you have your resources internally approved and ready to go so you can provide them easily and quickly.

Timing is everything.

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January 31, 2014

Getting Your Company Message Right

Peak Communicators was recently engaged by a well-established successful Canadian-based company selling internationally. The management group was in a quandary: they no longer knew who they were and where they fit in the marketplace.

The capable managers felt the company’s culture had gone flat, its messages were out of date and they were drifting.

They didn’t know who they were, who they wanted to be, where they were going and why they made a difference.

There was a strong feeling that the thousand plus employees had lost the fire in the belly to forge ahead in a changing marketplace and sales environment. Some new conquests were needed.

In short, they no longer knew what their story was or how to tell it. They wanted a motivational story to provoke change.

A story is a narrative describing an event or series events. It’s not a sales pitch for a product or service.

What is your story?

To resonate, a story must have three strong elements: emotion – information – call to action.

Peak facilitated a strategic brainstorming session with senior managers to unlock information. We developed the topics to be communicated and then filled those buckets with messages. Working with the managers, messages were refined into three key messages per topic.

Change is making somebody or something different. For this company, it had to be positive change toward a clear vision and direction. And it had to be exciting. They wanted a new story to lead the process for change.

Questions asked included:

  • How do you see yourselves? Your products?
  • Why do you do this?
  • How do customers see you? Your products?
  • What is your ultimate product or value proposition?
  • What does change look like to you?
  • Where do you see yourself in one year? Two years? Five years?
  • What would success look like?

A remarkable amount of information tumbled forth during the half-day session. It was an opportunity to re-evaluate, redefine and set a new direction.

The new course should be established by analyzing the data established by the topics and defined by the key messages.

These topics and key messages became the guideposts for all communications: internal for employees, contractors and suppliers – external for customers, prospects and key influencers.

They are also the outline for THE story or stories that everyone can tell.

A communications plan should be a next step to guide communicating the exciting new messages that will give new purpose to employees and renewed motivation for business development and growth.

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