Media Relations: The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

pinwheelOf all of the lines about the media business I have ripped off over the years, the one that I seem to use the most consistently is “The ‘T’ in TV stands for ‘Today.'” In TV news, for as long as I can remember, if a story doesn’t have a “today” hook and a sense of “now,” it’s probably not going to get covered. “Evergreen” stories are nearly impossible to get covered. Now, it isn’t just TV where that applies.

The significant reduction of traditional media resources and space has caused a wave of changes in the PR business. But one of them is a a change in mindset. We have had to learn how to get used to waiting for even “good stories” to get done and then usually wait some more for them to appear.

A few weeks ago, we got a call from a reporter who had been assigned a business trend story by her editor. She thought one of the organizations we work with could be helpful. We provided information and access right away and she had what she needed relatively quickly, considering it was an enterprise story. Yet, the story took 13 days to appear online and in print.

Three weeks ago today, a TV station interviewed one of our Tanner Friedman clients for a planned “promotable” story. It has yet to go on the air because a glut of “day of” news has gotten in the way. 22 days ago, a business reporter got back to us with some follow-up questions about a possible story. That reporter hasn’t been able to get back to it since.

It’s important to remember when bringing potential news to journalists that “the news of the day” is always going to win. Everything else, even if reporters and editors like the story, is going to have to wait. That can be frustrating, but it is important to remember that it’s the new reality and something you need to condition your clients to expect.

The best way to get coverage now is either to have something that can’t wait, like an announcement that meets news criteria, or to offer an angle to a story that the media is already covering. Otherwise, it is going to require patience for you and your client. That is something we didn’t need as much in this job just a few years ago. Now, it’s an imperative quality.