When we are working on a PR campaign, we’re often pitching to a wide range of media outlets including broadcast, magazines, newspapers, online titles and influencers, not to mention regional and national variations. All of which have different lead times and ways of working.
For this reason, it is crucial to understand the difference between long lead and short lead media to ensure you are pitching your story or product to the right outlet at the right time. If you are too early, you will likely be filed and forgotten but equally you don’t want to be late to the party either!
An example of a long lead is a printed magazine, which is usually working 3-5 months in advance of an issue hitting the newsstands. For example, in March editors are already working on their June/July issues. When it comes to Christmas, they are working even further ahead, often wrapping up their festive issues as early as July/August. Editors also tend to complete their January issues early to take into account time off over the Christmas holidays.
It is also important to remember that print magazines tend to be released a month before the issue. For example, a March issue will be available to buy in mid-late February.
If you want your brand to be seen in long leads such as magazines, you need to plan ahead and pitch to journalists at the right time. You also need to allow time to follow up or tweak your pitch, as it is unlikely you will get a response first time, due to the volume of emails and press releases a journalist receives on a daily basis.
Example pitch timings:
March: Start pitching your summer stories/products
July: Start pitching your Christmas stories and products for gift guides and festive issues, which tend to come out in October/November
Other media such as online titles, broadcast, newspapers and supplements have much shorter lead times, working 2-4 weeks in advance. As an example, if you would like to be included in a Mother’s Day feature, you will want to start pitching to these titles in February.
Some news-heavy online titles are running on even shorter lead times to ensure they are posting current and up-to-date content, so it is possible to send a press release and see it featured within days or even hours. Examples include the BBC or Huffington Post.
Keeping up with media deadlines might sound overwhelming but we’ve put together a useful PR calendar to help us plan ahead and not miss out on any seasonal features. Sign up to our e-newsletter to receive your free monthly calendar.