. The Transom .

Friday, February 09, 2007

Timing is everything. Just ask Lisa Nowak.

It's never a good thing when someone dies and this post is in no way intended to express an opinion either way in the recent death of Anna Nicole Smith. It does, however, provide me an opportunity to point out a tactic of the communications business. This tactic is utilized by most top agencies and most major companies in their communications work. What's the tactic? Timing your news.

I can think of two people who are rather happy Anna Nicole Smith passed away when she did. Lisa Nowak and Michael Devlin. In case you have been living under a rock, Nowak went AWOL from NASA on an attempted murder spree and Devlin made national headlines in the abduction and sexual assault of two young boys.

Smith's death has taken the front page news away from these two. While her death was unexpected, it served the same purpose as a planned news release. For example, if a company has bad news to report, right now would be a great time. If it's great news, I'd wait until Monday. On a slow media day, a news report about a company missing earnings might be page one stuff. On a day that has breaking news, it ends up on page 20. Mission accomplished for the company. Great communicators know how to time the news. Unless it's critical or breaking news, it can end up where you want it more times than not.

The reverse is also true. We had a major client event scheduled for 10am. Every TV station and print media in town was confirmed to attend. We had planned it for months. So what happened that morning? Saddam Hussein got pulled out of a hole in Iraq. Of course, our client got zero coverage.

Timing. You can't always make it work to your advantage, but you can do better than hoping.

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