Lamenting the Demise of the Slow Summer News Cycle

Way back when, the consensus among public relations professionals was that August was undeniably one of the slowest news periods of the year because it was the time of the mass summer vacation exodus.

Clients and decision makers went off the grid.

Media took much needed vacations and, in light of the slow news cycle, staff took their annual camping trips or beach excursions.

Not any more.

The news cycle is 24-7, regardless of the temperatures or the month on the calendar showing beach umbrellas.

Back to school, one of the busiest and most lucrative news cycles, literally starts right after Memorial Day.

Then there is the Black Friday of Summer, Amazon Prime Day and the wanna-bes that follow suit.

This summer, the world of politics and the omni-present Twitter news machine being used by many politicians is taking over (by no means is this limited to the President).

Just think what is on our collective plates that will spill into our “quiet” August:

– The presidential debates
– The candidate musical chairs and spin cycles
– Robert Mueller’s public testimony
– The immigration crisis
– The census citizenship question

This new world order presents a unique challenge for PR pros, especially if they represent a consumer product not relevant to back to school, footwear, apparel, fashion or an obscure technology, as there will be far less space for their features or news — regardless of whether it is in the digital or print world.

Here are rules of thumb for best practices on how to best deal with a dizzying new cycle – one that should have been quiet:

– Plan ahead as much as possible.
– Determine the best time to pitch the story in light of the news chaos. Pitch early and follow-up with a gentle reminder.
– Determine the best reporter (your regulars may have been pulled onto one of those other stories).
– If possible, link the story to a relevant news hook,but don’t “news jack”.

– Try not to pitch stories on Fridays when reporters are trying to get done with deadlines to enjoy a bit of summer’s time off.
– Most importantly, stay in touch with reporters throughout the year. Complement them on stories. Become a solid resource for them. That way you’ll have already built a relationship and won’t need to rely on one specific timeframe in order to achieve success.

Plan B?
Go back to that summer gin and tonic and the Adirondack chair.