Your deadline is “Now!” (but you can still control the timing)

Adam Kress in Arizona, a former reporter now working in the public relations industry, wrote a column recently with five tips for PR pros about how to deal with the news media (read his column here). I really liked his thoughts and I encourage you to read his piece.

One of the tips Adam shared was about how important it is to respond quickly when a reporter responds to a news release you distribute. He writes in part: “Be available when a reporter reaches out! There is little more frustrating to a reporter than responding to a press release only to hear that executives won’t be available for an interview until three days from now. In their mind, it’s not news then. It’s news NOW!”

He’s 100% correct. Reporters are ALWAYS on deadline. They can not wait for you to get your act together. If you are lucky enough to have caught their interest with a news release to the point where they want to do a story, you’ve got to act promptly to help them get it done.

I always tell reporters, “Your deadline is my deadline.” I don’t try to stall or delay them.

So here’s how you can avoid this situation. If you plan on distributing a news release, make sure you do so only when you or your designated spokesperson on the topic is available to respond to a reporter’s questions. Work with their schedules to ensure their availability in case a reporter wants to interview them.

If you issue a media advisory about an upcoming event that will take place on a day when you’ll be out of the office, don’t put your office phone number for your contact information. Either list your cell phone number or the phone number of a co-worker who will be available that day. Think ahead!

No, reporters don’t have a lot of time to crank out their stories. No, they can’t wait for you or your spokesperson to return from vacation.

So my advice for you today is: if your spokesperson is not available when you want to send out a news release, then DON’T SEND IT OUT. It can wait. The news will be just as important later as it is today, and your chances of placement success will rise if you can respond quickly to a reporter’s request for an interview.

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