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When is the right time to send my media pitch?

Timing is everything and as the great Kenny Rogers once said, you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run. This is a lesson for media as much as gambling.

Media engagement is as much about timing as it is about the concept behind your pitch. If you send a story idea to a journalist/editor/producer at the wrong moment in their day, the wrong moment in the news cycle or the wrong moment in relation to world events, then you might as well not send it.

Knowing a journo/producer’s timeline:
I know what you’re thinking, ‘how should I know a journo’s schedule’? Well firstly we know journos are a bit precious about how busy they are/how many emails they have in their inbox/how many deadlines are looming/how this all affects their life. And whether or not you dig the preciousness, it’s there, so it’s best to cater to it.

At Media Stable we send our Media Board out at 8pm EST, in time for the next day’s media. But if you’re sending a press release or pitch to a particular outlet, it will pay you to research the deadlines of your target journo/editor/producer, and then pitch in line with that. If they are on air until 10am, email them at 11. If their weekly deadline is on Tuesdays, don’t contact them on a Tuesday. Find out when their critical times are and avoid contact during these hours.

Knowing the right time in the news cycle:
These days, the news cycle is 24/7, but that does not mean that any time is a good time for pitching. You must be specific about the media you’re getting in touch with. If you’re targeting a breakfast radio program that airs from 7am – 10am and you have a lovely fluff piece that is right up their alley, then pitch it at least the day before, and a maximum of four days before you want it aired. If it’s not a news story of the day, they won’t respond during the show and if you’ve left it to the day of relevance, then it will be ignored.

If you’re pitching to a glossy magazine, and you want your story featured in the Winter months, then pitch it in Feb/March – glossies operate 3-4 months in advance.

Make sure you factor in the timing of your event too. If you’ve got a great story about Australia’s oldest digger being reunited with their comrade who they haven’t seen in 50 years and they’re meeting for a cuppa on Tuesday which also happens to be ANZAC day and when they meet they’re going to eat their favourite fruit cake which got them through WWII in the trenches, sent from one of their wives who is your Granny and now you’ve got a million-dollar cake business because of the popularity of the cake in the trenches spreading far and wide…. Don’t put an invite to the cake meeting out to media on Monday. And definitely don’t send a press release summarising the meeting after it happened. TV crews want to be there! Send the pitch a minimum of a week before, and with events like ANZAC day that gives the opportunity timeliness, send the pitch 2 weeks before. Give the media enough time to successfully pitch the story to their producer, get their crew together and get there.
Knowing the right time in world events:

If you are frustrated because you haven’t been getting breakthrough in the media lately, just consider for a moment what has been happening in the world of late. We had the bottom fall out of England and the EU dramas with Brexit. Then we’ve had Trump domination for at least four months, and will soon have full blown election campaigning in the US which inevitably flows into Australian media. We’ve also had our own federal election to contend with – a long, drawn out and stifling campaign period now followed by a long, drawn out and stifling vote count. During a federal election, it is very difficult to generate interest from the media in your stories.

This is an example of a particularly bad period in terms of trying to contend with media noise on global events. But at any time (whether there is an election on or not) it is worth considering what is happening in the world. Consider annual calendar events like religious holidays, unplanned events that hit the news and events within the media itself – staff layoffs, media buyouts etc.

Considering calendar events will also give you an opportunity to capitalise on a potential lack of staff – editors and producers are always looking for great content over the summer holiday period, so keep in mind how timing can positively affect your media pitching.

In media, you’ve got to play your cards right to get some traction. Taking basic timing into your strategy is worth it and you’ll see the effects pretty quickly when you start to get pickup thanks to good timing and good content.

Emily Morgan is the Media Engagement Manager at Media Stable, Australia’s most trusted Media Directory.

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