Timing is everything: When NOT to pitch

It might be hard to fathom but media—ahem, journalists—are human beings who look forward to long weekends, need to settle in on Monday mornings and get deluged at industry events.


You’ve put a ton of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears into a news announcement.

You’ve developed sound messaging, created killer content, drafted a fantastic press release and written thoughtful, tailored pitches to reporters you’re convinced will jump all over the news.

It’s game day, and you’re ready to go. It’s your time to shine, and you know it.

Then, your news lands with a thud. Nothing happens; no one cares. Black hole city: population, your announcement.

Your client is livid, and you want to crawl under your desk and cry.

What in the world just happened? Well, the announcement may have been garbage and you were just fooling yourself the whole time.

If it was any good, it all could be a matter of timing.

Strategic, heads-up timing can make all the difference. To give yourself the best shot at success, avoid the following when setting a release date for major news announcements:

  • Too close to a long weekend. Reporters need breaks, too, and they tend to take vacation days around long weekends and other holidays just like the rest of us. The only way they’ll pay attention to a news announcement is if they’re in the office, and even before they head out they’re probably trying to wrap up whatever they’ve been working on.
  • Significant activity from other brands. Avoid the week of any planned or rumored announcement from the major, dominant brand in your industry (for example, Apple’s famous iPhone unveilings or a Facebook earnings announcement). Your targeted reporters will have no time to focus on anything else, no matter how cool your news is.
  • Major industry conferences. Competition for attention abounds at these shows, so it’s incredibly difficult to break through. Plus, all the reporters are hopping around from session to session and dealing with a barrage of emails and pitches. You could’ve gotten so much more play if you had waited a few weeks to release those survey results.
  • Mondays and Fridays. You’re putting yourself at a big disadvantage when you try to reach reporters just as they’re heading out the door for the weekend or catching up on emails on a Monday morning before they’ve had their coffee.

What did I miss? Are there any timing nightmares and key lessons you’d like to share?

Dave Heffernan is an account director with Shift Communications. A version of this post first appeared on the Shift Communications blog.

Topics: PR

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