Deadlines – the greatest PR tool we have

keep-calm-it-s-not-meant-to-go-viralAlthough most of our work involves getting our clients into the public eye, there are also times when we try to keep them out of it. It’s the nature of the beast that publicity has two sides, good and bad, and sometimes it’s our responsibility to our clients to get less coverage for them rather than more.

Chit Chat PR & Digital came under fire recently on Facebook of all things from a group of people who seemed to think we couldn’t do our jobs well.

They were criticising us for the lack of coverage we received on a press release we sent out to local and national media.

It was an unfortunate story for a client who operates in a controversial industry.

What had happened wasn’t what the client wanted to happen, but because their situation had been highlighted in the media several times over the last two years, we took the decision to issue a press release on this chapter of the whole story. It was very much in the public interest.

However, we also didn’t want the media to “go big” on the story, so how the press release was written and when it was released was crucial.

And this is where the criticism we received was unwarranted and here’s a little explanation of why we are actually extremely good at what we do.

Getting press coverage can be for many different reasons, in our line of work, I would say 95 per cent of the time, we want maximum coverage. We are usually issuing positive press releases, on positive issues. A client has a quirky product, a member of staff has done something above and beyond, they have won an award, they are expanding beyond belief. It could be anything. But as I say, it’s thankfully, the majority of the time, it’s the good stuff we work on.

Maximum coverage doesn’t always mean the most, it can sometimes mean targeting the story to the right publication for the audience you are trying to reach.

And even for the “good stuff”, the timing can be critical.

However, sometimes we have to issue press release on situations that have not been ideal for our clients. It’s often a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation, but in PR if it’s inevitable a story will be leaked some other way, we usually advocate being first with the news, that way, you can have some level of control.

And this is what happened last week.

We had a not so good story to tell. It was of interest in the first instance to local media and we knew the nationals would pick up the story from there. It was also policy for the company to run the statement on their own website, so it was being put out there for all to see.

We issued to three local newspapers. Remember, we didn’t want to be telling this story, but equally we knew we had to.

So we timed it for late in the afternoon on a Thursday. This completely missed the deadline of the weekly we targeted as it had just hit the streets that day. They could have run it online, but didn’t. I probably would have had I still been running that particular desk, but hey, I’m not.

And we knew the other two papers would have been approaching deadline and would have been pushed for space to run something big on what we had to say. It also gave them limited time to get reaction from said group who have taken it upon themselves to have a pop at us.

However, we also know the importance papers place on getting the exclusive or at the very least getting it first, we knew they would run something – even if it was small.

And because it has been small – so far – our critics seem to think we have done a bad job. Do they not realise that actually this is exactly what we wanted to happen? Clearly not.

On their own social media sites our critics say we have “no one of note to chit chat to”. Ha! Nice play with our name.

But it’s on the contrary. We have fantastic contacts in all the local and national papers.

But we also know the deadlines of all of these papers, we know how to target a story to an individual journalist and probably most important of all, we know the timings and how these can work in our favour.

And this time, we did just that.