Timing is everything when it comes to public relations, and PR timelines are a great way to stay on task. These documents give a high-level view of your campaign in an easy to read and understand format. They require some brainstorming, foresight and a bit of creativity, but your client will thank you once their product is launched successfully, the event goes off without a hitch or they’re featured in a top local publication!
Get the bigger picture
PR timelines are a great tool to get the bigger picture and work toward an end goal. One tip for executing a successful PR timeline is to work backward. For example, if you’re hosting a concert, start with your event date then let the rest fall into place – media announcement, artist interview, invitation distribution, etc. While it may sound counterintuitive, having an overview allows you to focus on the minute details because everything else is already in place!
Stay on track
With big campaigns, it’s easy to get off schedule. Whether it’s waiting to hear back from a reporter, navigating venue cancellations or making last-minute edits to a news release, you can spend a lot of time in limbo waiting on responses. PR timelines grant you the freedom to get started early (or know when you’re behind), and with everything laid out, you can plan ahead. For example, if you know a certain publication requires a longer lead time, you can pitch well in advance to ensure you receive coverage in a timely manner. Or if there’s a large event coming up, you can note to avoid contacting reporters or scheduling interviews during those dates as it’s safe to assume they’ll be busy covering that story instead. As mentioned earlier, PR is all about timing, and staying on top of current events, keeping a pulse on the media and knowing your client all factor into ensuring your message is communicated in an effective manner.
Just because you’ve distributed your news release doesn’t mean your job is over. There’s still room for follow up! Pitched a health fair to local news stations? Follow up the day before and morning of the event to make sure they’re aware and can attend to capture b-roll footage and interview attendees if they choose. Launching a new initiative at a nonprofit? Reach out to the nonprofit reporter at your local publication and ask if they’d like an exclusive (if your client is OK with this, of course). Hosting a launch party for a new product? Follow up with everyone who hasn’t RSVPd to ensure you get a more accurate number for caterers.
Once the main announcement is pitched or you’ve hosted your event, there’s still work to do! You can submit photos from the event to local news stations or society publications for potential coverage. You can leverage a national trend story to pitch your client’s product and show what’s being done at a local level. While timing is important, so are your resiliency and adaptability. How can you work with what you’ve got?
When you’re faced with a new campaign or your next client event, consider if a PR timeline is right for you! No matter the size, PR timelines act as a guiding light, can generate inspiration and keep your project on track.