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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