It’s the best feeling for a publicist to be told by the media, “Yes…we’ll cover that story.” Our heart beats with excitement and we can’t wait to tell our clients. But…the good news needs to come with a disclaimer.
We must remind them that A) breaking news can happen and they may not be able to cover the story. B) Even if they interview you, it’s not guaranteed to make the paper or hit the airwaves. Never promise anything. It is your job to educate your client on how the news world works.
First, let’s tackle why they may not cover your story, even if it’s a good one.
- If it is nighttime or the weekend, the television stations have a skeleton crew. Usually there is one reporter and maybe two videographers on staff. They have a ton to cover and a limited amount of time.
- Breaking news happens – all the time. The crew may be on their way to interview you, but a fire just broke out. Guess what, that crew will most likely be sent to cover the burning building.
Second scenario: the press interviews you and tells you that the story will be on the 5pm newscast, but it never airs.
- Again, that darn breaking news. That breaking news that wasn’t originally scheduled in the newscast will take the spot of one or several other scheduled stories.
- The stories are strategically timed out to fit in the timeframe of the newscast. Even if there is not breaking news, different stories may talk longer than originally planned. Thus, as the newscast continues, that time has to be made up. Thus, your story may get “bumped or killed” as those in the news industry call it.
It happens…a lot. Recently, we sent a client event video to all of the Connecticut news stations. All of them told me that they would like to use it. But, only one station aired it. Why? There was breaking news an hour before the newscast. That took priority and the story got bumped. It happens, and that’s okay. Not only did I tell my client that it’s not guaranteed to air, but I also explained to them about the breaking news from that evening.
As a publicist, it’s your job to not only educate your clients about this, but to make sure the producers and reporters know you understand how it works. Your clients and your media sources will appreciate your honesty and understanding.
Never promise anything!