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Timing the transmittal of a news release

One of the members of the POD Publishing discussion group asked the following question:

When do you recommend going out with the press release (i.e. on the release date, a month before, etc.).


Timing news releases depends what you are trying to accomplish and where you are at in your publishing or product release schedule. You must first recognize the key event date and then take media lead times into account. If this is associated with the publication of a book or a new product, this is usually associated with the official publication date or release date.

I do not generally advise sending out a news release till you can satisfy media requests for review copies or product test samples and interviews with the right person or people. If you can’t satisfy the media then you hurt yourself since you get a request which opens the door of opportunity but then you can’t satisfy the media’s request immediately. So you reduce the chances of getting the coverage you seek. So it depends when your books are available to you and that usually is a month or so before an official publication date, but this varies and is often a flexible date.

Second, the public has to be able to buy the product when the media publishes the news. So that means it has to be available at Amazon and/or plus any number of other web sites, and possibly be available in bookstores and or through bookstores so you can financially benefit (that is sell product) from the national or targeted demand your publicity seeks to create. This means you should not launch a news release or publicity campaign until the business system is totally operational. If you need to book to be in the bookstores or retail shops first, then you have to wait until your distributor tells you it is time to hit the switch. You have to be prepared to do what’s necessary to publicize and promote so that the window of opportunity doesn’t slip by and the lack of demand results in returns. Timing so that publicity hits when the product is in the stores is pretty crucial. If you are selling totally online, then this is not as crucial a factor.

You have to factor media lead time into account. This means you look two to three publications cycles ahead of the media you seek to get coverage in or on and then also take into account things like media response time to your pitch, mailing and delivery time, assignment time, the time it takes to read, write, review and then actually publish an approved article. For daily newspapers, this means a week to two weeks minimum and many times usually requires a month; for weekly newspapers, this is four to six weeks or more; for magazines this is four to six months. For radio and TV, it’s seven to ten days minimum, and preferably two to four weeks. Online media can of course react very quickly but many of the response and review times do factor into how soon these media can respond effectively. That’s all assuming you want media to do something with your book.

This means that you really have to stagger your news releases and target your media carefully if you are to take advantage of the medias needs. magazines require four to six months, so you hit them first. You do the short term media two to four weeks before your official public availability date. If you wait till the one month before launch date, then magazine publicity will come last and in some cases you lose the opportunity to time the coverage that you need at the time of product release. Still magazine publicirty at the back end can be a very helpful thing to have indeed since it will sustain your sales once the impacts of the short term efforts and coverage start to diminish.

Let’s say though that you are publicizing an event like a book signing, or a conference, or a work shop or a speaking event. If it is deemed to be newsworthy event or a hard news happening or something you propose media to witness of go to that involves people and photographers and interviews, then the minimum media times apply. We’ve seen newspaper, radio and TV camera crews get sent out and show up within 30 minutes of transmittal holding their Blackberries and iPods in their hand reading the news release and say “where do we set up?”

Finally there’s the day to day timing question. Which day of the week is it best to send out a news release to the media? The prime media tends to work on a five day work week schedule and that means they work Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday they have off and fewer people really are working in the office. Monday is a bad news day because the media show up to work and have staff meetings and have to recover from the weekend. Friday is also a bad day since they are wrapping things up and are trying to leave for the weekend. So unless it is really hard news, transmitting a news release on or near weekends is not going to get the best media response. But it really depends again what you are asking media to do. If all you want them to do is say yes to you sending in a book for review, Friday morning may be OK.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays give you the best opportunity to catch media when they have the least amount of competition for their attention and the maximum opportunity to devote resources to your project. So that is when I prefer to news releases to be delivered.

Finally, after the book is published, the publicity you seek may be far more issue and content focused and related to current events or some other angle. Regardless, you seek to get coverage for the best ideas, education or entertainment you can offer. This you can do whenever you want to do, but it really helps to get out in front to media and look four to six months out. So for example, today is March 25 so Mother’s Day is six weeks away, Father’s Day is two and a half months away, Earth Day is a month away, Independence day is three months away, Labor Day is four months away and so on.

I’ve created a free publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for people which is a free pdf file download. It contains a lot of unusual holidays so that you can really get creative and think up ways to tie-in to calendar events well in advance of the day they occur. Here’s the link:

Publicity Planning Calendar for 2010

The lesson learned is to be prepared, plan things out carefully, andthink through what you are asking media to do when you send out a news release.

If you’ve done your homework and you know you are offering something that interests a lot of people, has real value to the audience, and you also offer the media what they need to do their job easily and quickly, then when you send out a news release and get it to the right media people for action, then you will often times get what you wish for (which is media coverage).

Event Publicity – Targeted PR Tactics that Work

Event Publicity – Targeted PR Tactics that Work

Getting publicity for a local event is a pretty straight forward project. It’s just that the devil is in the details.

A custom targeted publicity campaign to your local media can get you coverage in the newspapers, and on radio and TV before, during and after your event if you recognize the opportunities and provide the media with just what they need at the right time.

You can conduct the campaign so that you drive people to your event and also get feature stories which talk about your event while the event is going on. Both will improve sales of tickets to your event. You can also get feature stories which describe what happened at your event and which identify to the public where they can get more information even after the event is over. This will improve sales of product or services after the event is over.

A special event news release needs to be written that describes:

• WHAT the event is all about
• WHO is doing the talking
• WHAT the key person is going to talk about or do (book signing or talk or speech or seminar…)
• WHEN (exact times)
• WHERE your events are going to be located including the address (even specific directions) of the venues
• HOW to attend with cost (if any) and the local contact information (who to call and a phone)
• WHY is it going to be interesting and important
• AND WHO is going to be most interested.

The most crucial information is:

• the exact location (street address and room)
• the exact date and time
• and the local person for the public to contact to get more information or tickets for the event.

You can create one well written news release which identifies multiple events AND offers some feature story content, substantive information or tips. This way you hit two birds with one stone. You address the needs of print media editor interests by providing descriptive and educational content. You also describe what your key person can talk about and why people will be interested in the subject so it addresses the needs of radio show, radio stations, and tv show producers and guest hosts in the selected target areas.

Now this next point is of critical importance. The real key to being successful in doing this city by city is to think hard and create a “local news angle” or a community involvement element of some sort event, and let the media know what this is in the news release.

Many authors have a book subject with broad national interest or appeal. This will get some editors thinking about an invitation or an article, but it will not get as many is when there is a distinct local news angle and a strong community involvement element highlighted in the news release.

A local news angle is one which features a local citizen, event, activity, problem, or concern, or benefit. Thus, if you send a news release to New York City the release should contain something of specific interest to people in New York City.

The secret to being successful here is to identify key local people, people, people for the media to interview and write about.

You add in the community involvement element by think up ways to interest or help a larger number of people in a specific group, organization, or needy sector of society. You can enhance the public interest this way, get more people to come because of the networking that can occur within a group of people who are interested in a topic.

This can be one of the most difficult ideas to implement effectively. It often takes some real creativity if you don’t know anyone who can act as a local focal point or subject of interest for a community involvement activity.

So brainstorm and do some research. Use the Internet, and phone book to identify a local participant who would like to share some publicity with you. Then call someone, or a company or organization to ask if they would participate somehow meaningfully. Often times it’s a simple as a club, a church group, a school, a teacher’s class, a PTA group, a women’s shelter, or a non-profit group of some type.

You can call ahead and make the arrangements, get the quote, the local case study, or problem analysis. Get a local to review the book, say how they used it in solving a problem, or helping someone, or just how they enjoyed it. Send it to the mayor, or to a Principal, or president of a volunteer organization, or charity or self help group. Do what you need to but come up with a hard local news angle. Add this element in to the formula and tie it in to the bookstore event.

You use the local news angle in each “local” news release. Once you come up with a formula, you duplicate it city by city.

Newspaper editors in particular really love when you do this for them because it fits in with what they prefer to publish more than anything else they do.

The media response rate for news releases with a local community involvement news angle is the highest of any type of news release. You get more interviews and more publications.

Once you have your news release written you need to acquire access to a custom targeted media list.

This is a current listing of people with street mail, phone numbers and email addresses that identifies and contains just the right media for you and your event. This should include a carefully developed list of the right calendar editors, news, lifestyle and feature editors, and subject matter editors at:

• daily newspapers
• weekly newspapers,
• magazines and appropriate trade publications
• radio stations
• radio shows
• television stations
• television shows
• news services & news syndicates
• and Internet media.

Depending on your event, this listing can be a small list of media within a downtown area, or it can cover your zip code, or a geographic area within ten miles or a half hour or more driving time. The circumference of the area you target and specifics of the list of media you create will be based on who you need to reach with your message to connect meaningfully with the people you need to ultimately reach.

You can also conduct Internet search, email and phone campaigns to identify places locally so you can then send your news release and personal invitations to:

• Associations
• Clubs
• Support Groups
• Non-profits
• Schools
• Churches

And other potentially relevant groups of local people.

You can also use social networks about your event and ask them to tell all their friends.

Finally, you need to remain acutely aware of media lead time. Your publicity campaign for an event needs to be initiated two to three weeks before your event. You need to transmit by street mail, and email and make phone calls to media so that you confirm that the right media receive and acknowledge that they have the information.

You should have media kits prepared in advance so that media you can respond quickly and effectively to media who make a request for information. Your goal is to give them the additional information they need to do a feature story quickly and easily. So your media kit should have everything they need including things like photographs, questions and answers, bios on key people, and specifications of products.

Steps to conducting an Event Publicity Campaign

1. Lay out your event schedule get prepared to send out news releases three to six weeks before your event.

2. Prepare your news releases.

3. Create and acquire your custom targeted media list.

4. Send out your first news release three to even as many as six weeks before the event.

5. Follow up by phone with the most important media on your list at each event location. Invite the media to come to the event, or interview the key people before, during, or even after the event. Invite feature editors to come to the event. Offer tailored articles, interviews, and site visits if your schedule allows.

6. Send out a second news release seven to ten days before the event, and follow up once again, to get and confirm media attendance or interviews.

7. Conduct the event and do the interviews. Treat the media in attendance very special. If they came in response to your release, thank them and make it worth their while. Give them review copies and media kits if you haven’t already done so. Be quick to take advantage of an opportunity to get more publicity, or better media coverage.

8. Send out a final news release on or immediately after the event to leverage the event . The event itself is news. This release should be a short article which summarizes the high points of the event and provides book, ordering and contact information. Make it easy for the media to do a feature story about the event just as if they were there reporting the event.

9. Call to say thank you to media contacts for the coverage and to request tear sheets. Offer additional information, articles, or interviews by phone as appropriate.

You need to try as hard as you can to create a socially relevant event – a cultural experience that generates word of mouth. Make sure that you seek a balance where you position your author as an expert or a helpful champion of the locals, a facilitator of change. Educate, entertain, inform, and motivate the people in the audience at the event. Give the media photo opportunities to visually capture local people experiencing real emotion. One great picture of a child or a person exhibiting a dramatic and personal feeling will galvanize the reading public to action and result in more sales.