Friday, April 18th, 2014

Ron Tandberg PR cartoon"Don’t outdate your efforts," says Brian Johnson, author of The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom, There’s something worth remembering about media people. They are seriously anal retentive, real sticklers for detail. Well, the good ones at least. It should be in the job description.

They can be quite the Pragmatic Tosser (PT), especially when it comes to information they deem to be “old”. This can mean death to your missive and any hope of coverage.

Still, you’d rather have a PT generating your news than someone who couldn’t be bothered. As a reader, listener or viewer, you want the attention to detail that is the hallmark of the news pro. It means you’re getting quality coverage.

But many PR campaigns fail before they begin by automatically stamping the information with the date it has been issued. If releases are not eyeballed immediately, media people, especially PTs, will bin them because they don’t want to take the risk (professional embarrassment) of running a story their competitors ran before them – or worse still, their colleagues.

Old dates on media releases (and the like) put that risk in their minds. Many people put the actual day of issue on the document, some put the month, others don’t date it at all. So what’s the correct way?

By putting a specific date on it you could create an unintended “butterfly effect”. It may only have a life of 24 hours before it’s deemed to be old and unwanted. It all gets back to the information in question.

If it’s genuinely newsy, or an update on a developing situation, date it to that actual day. But try to distribute it early so you can catch the full day’s media cycle. Too many people put out a media release late in the day, bearing that day’s date, which is often not seen (or considered) until the next day – when, by its own definition, it is yesterday’s news. If your release is more of a lifestyle or talkback-style issue, consider dating it by month and year to make it “current” for an extended period, rather than being outdated within a day. You may even choose not to put a date on it at all. “Heresy!” some PR practitioners might scream.

But if the information is relatively timeless, why impose a time sanction or potential death sentence on it? Always maximise the timeframe for your information to attract coverage.

Pragmatic Tossers are good operators, but their peculiar professional trait could see your media release instantly binned if it’s not deemed “current”. This advice is drawn from The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom by Brian Johnson, an award-winning journalist and leading PR practitioner. To develop your own online newsroom, with all the features you need to communicate directly with journalists and bloggers, visit NewsMaker.