In comedy, a badly timed punchline ruins the joke. It's the same in news. Deliver it on time, it's news. Deliver it late and it's yesterday's news.
Nowhere is bad timing more damaging than in crisis response. But sluggish media relations can be just as harmful. The most serious casualty is a lost opportunity to tell your story when a key audience may be listening or watching.
Here are some of the most common, albeit lame reasons for tardy media engagement:
- Arthritic approval structures in organizations, especially large ones.
- Obsessive word-smithing over language in a press release that will never see the light of day.
- A reticence to share some facts until all facts are known.
- A forlorn belief that the story will blow over.
- Worries about legal exposure.
- Waiting for the right moment.
- Not wanting to look pushy.
Organizations that understand the value of media relations in this media-rich digital age overcome those obstacles to timely news delivery. They streamline how news releases are written and approved. They focus on key messages, not press releases. They know opportunities come and go, but some stories don't fade away. They pay attention to legal counsel, but don't enslave themselves to it. They understand that if they don't tell their story, somebody else will.
Most important, smart organizations see effective media relations as a critical strategy. Direct communication with your target audience is vital, but that audience also pays attention to third-party coverage and commentary to provide context and validation.
In a world of profiling communications channels, media relations has gotten tougher. But one thing remains the same. News is news. Old news isn't news, just like a mangled punchline isn't funny.