Meeting deadlines is vital.
It’s either completely inappropriate or entirely fitting that I’m writing a blog post on meeting deadlines, considering BlueSky’s web editor asked me to submit this blog two weeks ago.
Whilst my tardiness served to inspire the topic of this post it certainly can’t be excused because, regardless of whether you’re providing comment to a journalist or a blog post for your own website, deadlines must be met.
It’s not rocket science to see why this rule of PR is so important. As a PR professional you are responsible for providing the link between your institution and the media, enhancing its visibility and brand. By extension, your actions and reputation impact upon theirs. If a journalist requests information on a new programme, or some comment or a full article from your faculty and you fail to deliver it in time, this can seriously sour relations.
Missing a deadline doesn’t only risk putting the journalist in a tricky position (they may well have their own deadlines to meet with editors or publishers), it shows to a journalist that you – and your client by extension – are unreliable. When looking for interviewees in future, or commissioning articles for their magazine, an editor may actively decide not to pursue an opportunity with you because of this, severing your ties with what presumably is an important audience for your institution to engage with.
Negative situations are always far more memorable that those which go off without a hitch. If a journalist, editor or producer associates your institution, your professor, with a negative outcome it can be hard – near impossible – to shake that image in future.
On the other hand, consistently delivering original, relevant and timely content will go a long way in affirming your faculty’s reputations as professionals, and establishing your institution as a reliable, useful source of information. This can certainly provide an advantage in securing future media opportunities.
It’s simple really. Don’t miss deadlines.
However, as I demonstrated at the beginning of this blog, mistakes can happen. Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control can hinder your efforts of getting that comment, that article (or blog!) to the right person at the right time.
There are a few steps you can take to try to stop this situation from occurring and, if it does, dealing with it in a helpful, responsible way;
- Plan ahead. Do as much as you can to anticipate media requests. For example, ahead of sending out a press release or pitching insights from your faculty ensure you have any additional materials a journalist may require to hand; headshots, copies of research papers etc. And, most importantly, do what you can to ensure your spokesperson is available (and willing) to speak with interested outlets. For yourself, make sure you’re also available to respond to media enquiries, provide additional information and oversee interactions between your spokesperson and the media
- Manage your time. If a journalist has asked to receive a comment from your faculty before 5pm on a Tuesday, make sure you gain that individual’s co-operation as soon as possible and that you’ve provided all the right information to ensure this happens. You could even suggest they send their contribution to you earlier than required so that the journalist receives the desired information in good time, rather than waiting until the last minute
- Be considerate. If your client can’t provide what the journalist needs, let them know as soon as possible. Journalists understand that, particularly under tight time constraints, their preferred interviewees may not be available. Give your media contacts the chance to rearrange their plans – perhaps even offer an alternative spokesperson where possible to resolve the situation.
- Be accountable. In the same way that your actions reflect upon your institution, your faculty’s actions can reflect upon yours. In instances when things go wrong, holding your hands up and admitting fault, and offering apologies is always advisable.
Our BlueSky blog is full of advice on how to effectively establish your business school and its faculty as key influential voices in industry, but if you'd like to find out more, please get in touch.
Author: Kerry Ruffle