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Media Lead Times – Key To Pitching The Media Successfully

media lead times deadline

Why I can’t get you into Entrepreneur or Inc. magazine next month.

I’ve gotten this request many times from prospects, “Can you get me featured in Entrepreneur magazine next month?”

No, I say without hesitation.

Not because I doubt my pitching skills but because there is something called lead times.

“Why not? I’ll pay whatever you charge,” persists the prospect.

Let me stop you right there. I didn’t hesitate to say no because TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, and some blogs and websites have lead times that govern their operations. These timelines may vary for different types of media outlets. Still, if you want to get media coverage or pitch a story or article, it’s essential to understand their lead times.

A Lead time in publishing describes the amount of time that a journalist has between receiving a writing assignment and submitting the completed piece. Depending on the publication, lead times can be anything from a couple of hours to many months. [source: Wikipedia]

Print publications like Entrepreneur or Inc. plan their issues four to six months in advance. This is one of the reasons that PR firms require a minimum 6-month retainer. Publicity can take time and planning to build a smart and strategic campaign, one that gets you media coverage.

As to my prospects who want to get featured next month, you are just too late. But don’t despair. With some planning, you can pitch the media with enough lead time to be quoted or appear on air, in print, or online.

Plan Backwards

1023px-Riding_a_Horse_Backwards_1110784Part of the key to successfully pitching publications on a story, a product launch, or an event is to work backward from your event date.

This way, if you were launching a product on February 1 of next year to get mentioned or featured in a print magazine such as Entrepreneur, you would have to start pitching 4 to 6 months before – in August to be safe.

I find planning backward can be can be beneficial when planning events and other promotional initiatives that have a firm date or event that I am building toward.

Here are some media lead times:

Monthly Consumer Magazine – Lead Time is four to six months

Newspaper sections vary [so it is best to check with the publication]

Daily Newspapers – Lead Time is one to three weeks*

TV Morning Shows [National] – Lead Time is two weeks to two months*

When in doubt, you can look at a publication’s media kit to see when the advertising closes for a particular issue; this will clue you into their lead times. You can always reach out to the publication to ask them precisely what their lead time is

* The one exception to these lead times can be ‘breaking news’. A story that has just happened and is considered very important and/or timely.

Related Content:

Before You Pitch The Media- 10 Things the Media Wishes You Knew