The Four Seasons of Publicity - Building an All-Year
by Bill Stoller
Published on this site: February
If youre like most publicity seekers, you probably think one project at
a time. Youve got a new product coming out in April, so you send out a release
in March. Youve hired a new executive, youll put out a release when
shes on board, etc.
For hard-core publicity insiders, though, theres
a rhythm to generating coverage, based upon the natural ebb and flow of the seasons.
Such an approach can help you score publicity throughout the year, and will help
keep your eye on the ball from January through December.
yearlong approach consists of two strategies:
- Timing your existing stories (new product introductions,
oddball promotions, business page features, etc.) to fit
the needs of the media during particular times of the year.
new stories to take advantage of events, holidays and seasonal activities.
we run through the four seasons of publicity, a few words about lead time. In
this age of immediacy (only a few seconds separate a Matt Drudge or a CNN from
writing a story and putting it before millions), its easy to forget that,
for many print publications and TV shows, it can be weeks -- and sometimes months
-- before a completed story sees the light of day.
The phrase lead time
simply refers to the amount of time needed for a journalist to complete a story
for a particular issue of a magazine or episode of a TV news program. For example,
a freelancer for an entertainment magazine may need to turn in a story on Christmas
movies by September 15. Thats a lead time of three months, time needed for
the editor to review and change the piece, the issue to be typeset and printed
and distributors to place the issues on newsstands before December. Lead time
can range from a day (for hard news pieces in newspapers) to a few days (newspaper
features) to a few weeks (weekly magazines) to many months.
leads are the domain of womens books like Good Housekeeping
and Better Homes & Gardens. These publications often have a lead time of up
to six months, which means they need information for their Christmas issues as
early as May!
Heres a tip to help you discover the lead time of a
particular publication youre targeting: call the advertising department
of the publication and request a media kit. Since advertisers need to know when
their ads must be submitted, each issues lead time is clearly stated in
the media kit.
Factor the lead time into your planning as you look over
the following sections. If you have a great story idea for Rolling Stones
summer issues, you need to be on the ball well before Memorial Day.
Four Seasons of Publicity:
First Quarter: January - March
What the Medias Covering: Early in the year, the media
is looking ahead. Its a great time to pitch trend stories,
marketplace predictions, previews of things to expect in the
year ahead, etc. If a new President is being inaugurated,
youll see lots of Will the new administration
be good for the (textile/film/cattle ranching/Internet/...or
any other) industry? types of pieces. This is a good
time to have something provocative, or even controversial,
to say about your industry.
The media also likes this time of year to run get your personal
house in order sorts of pieces. Tax planning, home organizing, weight loss,
etc. Anything thats geared toward helping people keep their New Years
resolutions can work here.
Key Dates and Events: Can you come up with a
story angle to tie your business into an event that typically generates lots of
coverage? Put on your thinking cap -- I bet you can! Here are some key events
during the First Quarter: Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament, Easter, The Academy Awards.
Quarter: April - June
What the Medias Covering: An anything goes
time of year. With no major holidays or huge events, April
is a good time to try some of your general stories (business
features, new product stuff, etc.) Light, fun stories work
here, as a sense of spring fever takes hold of
newsrooms (journalists are human, you know.
as happy winter is over as you are and its often reflected in the kind of
stories they choose to run.). As May rolls around, thoughts turn to summer. Now
theyre looking for summer vacation pieces, outdoor toys and gadgets, stories
about safety (whether automotive or recreational), leisure activities, things
to do for kids and so on.
Key Dates and Events: Baseball opening day, tax
day (April 15), spring gardening season, Memorial Day, end of school, summer vacation.
Quarter: July - September
What the Medias Covering: The dog days
of summer are when smart publicity seekers really make hay. Folks at PR firms
are on vacation, marketing budgets are being conserved for the holidays and reporters
are suddenly accessible and open to all sorts of things. Get to work here, with
creative, fun angles.
Entertainment-themed pieces do well in the summer, anything
with celebrities works, lighter business stories, new products, trend pieces,
technology news, back to school education-themed articles, you name it. Reporters
are about to get deluged once again come September, so use this window of opportunity
Key Dates and Events: July 4th, summer movies, summer travel, back
Fourth Quarter: October - December
What the Medias
Covering: The busiest time of the media calendar, the Fourth Quarter is when the
business media turns serious and the lifestyle media thinks Holidays, Holidays,
Holidays. Business angles need to be hard news. Fluffy trend pieces wont
cut it, as business editors begin to take stock of the state of the economy and
the market. Its a tough time to put out a new product release. For the non-business
media, think Christmas. Christmas travel, Christmas gifts, Christmas cooking,
whatever. If you have a product or service that can be given as a holiday gift,
get on the stick early.
Nail down lead times for the publications youre
targeting, call to find out whos handling the holiday gift review article
and get your product in the right persons hands in plenty of time -- along
with a pitch letter or release that makes a strong case about how what a novel,
unusual or essential gift your product makes. After Christmas, you have a brief
window for Best of the Year, Worst of the Year and Year
in Review pieces. Be creative -- the media loves these things.
Dates and Events: Labor Day, World Series, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas,
New Years Eve.
Bill Stoller, the "Publicity Insider", has spent two decades
as one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine and subscription
newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp
, he's sharing -- for the very first time -- his secrets of scoring big publicity.
For free articles, killer publicity tips and much, much more, visit Bill's exclusive