Media Relations: Understanding Lead Time

If it’s news to you and your business now, it’s news to the rest of the world right now too, correct? Wrong! For entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to get their news in the media, whether that’s a non-time sensitive piece or for a feature like a holiday gift guide, it’s important to understand the schedule that magazines, newspapers and TV follow. Pitching your Valentine’s Day story for a magazine in January? Nuh uh, read on 😉

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Long Lead

Often referred to as long-lead publications, magazines, trade publications and other glossies that come out on a monthly basis are working wayyyyyyyyy ahead of schedule! Have you noticed that (for example) the September issue drops in August? That means you need to pitch earlier than you think!

When to pitch: 4-6 months in advance

I bet the term ‘Christmas in July’ was coined by a magazine editor. While the rest of us are enjoying summer, magazines are closing their early fall and winter stories. Often, magazines will share their lead times on their submissions or writer’s guidelines pages so be sure to review what their production schedule is.

Tip: Many magazines also list their editorial calendar online so you’ll have an idea of what stories they’re working on for the rest of the year.

Short Lead

Since newspapers typically come out on a daily basis, you’re looking at a much shorter lead time. Of course, hard news is covered as-it-happens but if you’re pitching a soft news story, some advanced pitching is required if you have a particular timeframe that you’d like to see a story covered within.

When to pitch: 2-3 weeks in advance

Especially if you’ll be hosting an event or are looking to be featured in a special section, reach out to the appropriate contact 2 – 3 weeks in advance to pitch your story.

Hint: Don’t pitch newspapers after 3:00 p.m. – their writers are typically (stressed) on deadline finalizing their stories for tomorrow’s paper.

Television

Within the TV category, there are a number of different segments. Are you pitching a morning news show? Or how about daytime television? Is it live or pre-recorded? Here’s your breakdown:

When to pitch:

  • Morning Shows – 2-3 weeks in advance
  • Daytime TV Shows – 4-6 weeks in advance
  • News Shows – As-It-Happens

Especially with morning and daytime shows, the producers have an idea of what they’ll be covering for the upcoming month. While everything looks flawless on screen, it takes lots of communication between the on-screen talent, segment producer, set stylist, etc. to make perfection look easy.

Tip: When in doubt, pitch earlier rather than later. Better to be told to resend the pitch in a few weeks rather than miss the boat!

Too busy running your business to navigate lead times and coordinate coverage? Contact the team at Vitality PR to manage media relations on your behalf!

Lisa Simone Richards

Lisa Simone Richards, Principal of Vitality PR & Communications and Sexy & Wealthy in Heels Downtown Toronto City Leader Entrepreneurette, has spent more than ten years working with brands of all sizes to grow their businesses through effective public relations and marketing strategies. Her clients have secured coverage in some of North America’s largest media outlets including Cityline, The Social, Canada AM, the National Post, Chatelaine, and FitnessRX for Women. As a sought-out speaker, panelist and writer, Lisa Simone has been featured in the Globe & Mail, FASHION, SheKnows and more