“We are running an awareness week,” goes the press release from a well-known charity, “so we are looking for this piece to run in a national newspaper to promote that.”
It’s a typical paragraph added by many media officers when they send out a press release. Undoubtedly much work will have gone on leading up to this long-awaited awareness week or awareness month.
Some press offices will have saved up news stories to be released on this week. In their minds they obviously think everyone else – the public, journalists, mags and newspapers will all be only too delighted to print a story just because it is part of their ‘awareness week.’
Firstly, let me say I have nothing against these sort of weeks or months. I am sure for charities they can be useful times to rally the troops, bring volunteers together and to hold some special fund raising activities and focus effort.
But the problem is these sort of’ campaigning weeks are rarely interesting to anyone else, apart from the charity which created them. And making demands to a newspaper or magazine about when your press release should be printed is a bad idea.
To spell it out clearly: your charity story is up against the breaking stories of the day. It is up against murders, court cases, plane crashes, celebrity stories – and everything else that goes to take up precious publishing space in a newspaper or magazine.
So it makes sense not to be pedantic when your story is published. Be grateful if you get it published at all, rather than fiddling about it coinciding with some sort of week.
The same goes for ’embargoes’ – this story must not be published before such and such a time (and a date is given to a busy national newspaper days in advance, as if they don’t have enough to remember…)
Unless you are Clarence House, forget embargoes. Just send your press release out when you hope it will be published. Don’t lessen the chances of your press release making the papers by sticking ’embargo’ on it as well.
So when is it the best time for a press officer to send out a story or press release? Sending something out when it appears quieter on the news front is clearly a good idea – sending your press release out on Budget Day for example when the papers will be full of budget news obviously isn’t a good idea for example, unless it is of course budget related.
Which brings me neatly to another good time to send that media statement out – when it is topical and the subject you are talking about is in the news.
At all other times, media and press offices shouldn’t only be gearing up to a particular week or month but putting out stories to promote themselves all the time.