My phone rang about 2:15 p.m. last Thursday. It was Christine O’Brien, the administrative assistant at Five Seasons Sports Club in Northbrook.
Christine apologized for the late notice, but wanted to let me know that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White was celebrating his birthday at the club the next evening. Was there any chance we could get anyone from the media to cover it?
Absolutely, I said, we can give it our best shot.
A few minutes after gathering some details from Christine, I made five media contacts: the Northbrook Star, the Daily Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and Neighborhood Circle (a Sun-Times News Group website).
Within a half-hour, Northbrook Star managing editor Cathy Backer e-mailed a reply, stating that the paper would “round up a photographer” and inquiring as to Mr. White’s age (he’s 74). The story appeared today, including a home page photo-and-text spread on the Star’s home page online.
None of the other media outlets pursued the story suggestion. Even if none had at all, it would have been worth the effort.
Do the Best With What You’re Dealt
The lesson here, and which I emphasize to clients all the time, is it’s never too late to try to get media coverage. Of course, more lead time is helpful–sometimes crucial–and you don’t want to always be scrambling at the last moment. But the unfurling of events doesn’t always come in an orderly, tidy way, with a ribbon tied on top. It’s imperative that you do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt.
And frequently, I have found, providing short notice is not much of a disadvantage at all because the very nature of news is that editors, producers and other decision-makers always have to stay on their toes and can’t commit resources, for certain, until the time of a given event arrives.
At that point, if no fires, proverbial or literal, have flared up to attract their attention, then you stand a good shot at getting some kind of media treatment.