Thank Goodness for Weekends, Public Affairs Programs, and Slow News Days.
Most news that public relations people are asked to help make is not earth shattering or life changing. Stop protesting; you know it’s true. More often than not, we are asked to help make “soft news” visible. That does not make you (or me) bad or silly or indicate that we lack discernment. It merely acknowledges what we all know to be a fact of life for the modern public relations person.
Soft news comes in lots of forms that include but are certainly not limited to, new product introductions and demonstrations, new location openings, speeches, new brochures, seminars and other promotions. Occasionally there is an issue on which a client wants to air an opinion pro or con about things like red light cameras, building permits, property and sales tax increases or decreases. Regardless of how interesting or not these are to you, the people paying the bills want exposure. When are you likely to not receive any? On days when something dramatic happens and the news cycle is focused on that happening.
Clients and bosses will not be sympathetic when you tell them that what they want covered is not terribly newsworthy. At the same time, you want to collect a fee for your work or stay on the payroll. You have bills to pay too!
Bad Days for Public Relations People
Newsworthy events that sucked the air right out of the office lately were: disturbances in Baltimore, disturbances in Missouri, the Boston Marathon Trial, Hillary Clinton, the German Wings Airline Crash, the ISIS attack in Garland, Texas, etc. If you are planning an event in a larger media market, you can plan on competing for the limited resources of local news reporters with these and similar events. And do not forget the usual reporting on auto crashes, apartment fires, armed robberies, bad weather, good weather, cute animal stories, cute children stories, and sports that clog the airways and fog the minds of viewers/readers/listeners. What does a public relations person do when faced with normal reportage and hard news? If possible, plan to release your news on a typically “soft news day”.
When you wake up on the day of your release/event and the TV is full of some war or rumor of war, explosion, spill, or natural disaster, move your event to a weekend, or holiday. Yes, there are fewer news crews and reporters available on weekends and holidays. There are also fewer stories to cover. So put your story where the others are not, Saturday or Sunday.
Since news resources are scarce, be prepared to visit the local station (TV or radio) with your news and demonstration. If you go there, it frees the assignment editor to send his reporters elsewhere. Most TV stations have long form news programs on Saturday. Use them as avenues for publicity. For radio interviews, use the phone. Phone interviews are easy to record and re-broadcast. They are also easier to book with the producer you will deal with to get on the air.
In conclusion, take your soft news to a softer time of the week, the weekend!