PR 101: only fools rush in

Last week, a new client reached out to us seeking urgent help. He was launching a new company and needed a press release to put out on the PR wire services. The launch was in one week.

We told him that unfortunately we’re not able to help on such short notice and recommended another firm. But the lesson struck me as an important one to share because many clients come to us too late in the game, expecting magic in the span of hours.

Timing is a crucial part of a successful PR campaign, so keep these tips in mind when you’re creating your marketing plan:

Plan ahead

For months and weeks before the launch, you’re refining your product, tinkering with your website, announcing the coming launch to your friends and social networks… Public relations is no different – if you want a successful campaign, you have to plan in advance.

If you’re releasing a product, you should have a public relations firm – or a PR plan – in place at last one month ahead of the launch. If you’re launching a company or a store, you’ll need two months minimum to create a quality PR campaign, which should include a refined media list and a well thought out timeline.

Online vs print timeline

The timeline of a successful PR campaign will vary according to your media placement goals. If you’re looking for print media, many magazines work on a 3-6 month deadline, so you need to reach out to magazine editors as early as you have information and images to share. For example, if you’re releasing a spring product line, you need to be reaching out to editors by September of the previous year.

Newspaper deadlines are much shorter (one day to a week), but hard news items (think fire, election, etc.) will always take priority. So unless your story is tied to a specific event, it will appear whenever there is space. That means, reaching out to journalists on a “slow news day” (like around the holidays when there are fewer government stories) will increase your chance of publication.

Online press deadlines are much shorter, but can vary greatly – some blogs schedule their posts up to 2 months in advance, while others can put up a news item in a matter of days. Either way, you don’t want to wait until after your launch to reach out to editors. By letting them know the date of your release, you can have press coming in as soon as your product is launched.

And unless you’re not sure of your product’s quality, availability or release date, don’t be scared to contact editors before the launch – just make sure to tell them your release date and they won’t publish anything until then.

Link your story to a date

Introducing a product that works well for winter weddings? Have a 4th of July idea to share? Editors always do stories around holidays and seasons, so if your product or company aligns well with a particular theme, let them know in advance of the holiday. Linking your product to a calendar date or holiday is a great way to keep media buzz going throughout the year.

Respond ASAP

No matter how early you send your pitch, editors will often get back to you right before their deadline with an urgent request for a sample or image. If you want media attention, be prepared to provide what they want as soon as they want it, which means ASAP. We recommend having samples available to be shipped the same day, easily accessible image files, and a prepared blurb about the product and your company.

P.S. Press Release is Not a PR Campaign

If you think putting a press release on the wire will launch your company or product into the stratosphere, think again. While some companies have been known to go viral after a media release, such a case is once in a million. And even in those cases, it was never a press release that did it, but often a video showcase of a product or a launch event, prepared in advance.

About

Sasha Vasilyuk is the founder of I Do PR and an award-winning journalist who has covered travel, culture and business for Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle and others.

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