If you’re trying to get media coverage, you need to ask that simple question before you hit send on a news release or pick of the phone to pitch a reporter.
And you better have a good answer. Of all the many considerations when you’re seeking media coverage, timeliness trumps them all. Journalists are news-driven. If what you’re pitching them isn’t timely, well, then it’s really not news.
Adding to the challenge is that the news cycle continues to compress. Depending on the type of story you’re pitching, its shelf life might be only a day or two. Sometimes, it’s a matter of hours.
If you can infuse your pitch with urgency and timeliness, you have a much better shot at moving a reporter to action.
Here are three simple ways to make sure you’re pitches are well-timed.
Look ahead: Finding a timely news hook is often pretty easy if you plan ahead. Announcing a new fundraising drive to support Little League in your community is clearly a great fit for Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season. Planning ahead can also help you weave a news angle into a less obvious pitch. So, for instance, if you’re a locally-sourced market, announcing a new line of hot dogs and other meats might also get traction if you make a timely connection to baseball season.
Prep the press: Yes, busy reporters don’t have spare time to talk about news that hasn’t happened yet…unless it’s a tasty story. If you think your timely pitch has enough appeal to get good coverage – and you’re not revealing confidential information – give a reporter a head’s up so they can do some homework and carve out time to write the story. You can also send an embargoed press release that gives reporters a chance to do some research and get the story framed up prior to publication. (Learn more about how to get the media to cover your event.)
Lead with urgency: Don’t bury the timeliness of your pitch in the third paragraph of a press release. Make sure it’s woven into the headline, or at least in the lead paragraph so a reporter will immediately see the timely hook. Another simple trick – in the subject line open with “Press alert” instead of “Press release.” Changing one word makes a big difference.
So next time someone in your organization calls for a press release, ask ‘why now?’
If you have a good answer, it’s time to get to work.