Thursday, April 16, 2015

The best time for bad news

A few weeks ago, my friend Tom Iovino and I were teaching a session of the Basic PIO course for new Public Information Officers from throughout the state of Florida. What's that like, working with Tom?  Think Abbott & Costello Meet the Media.

Which one is Tom? Probably the guy with the hat
While talking about the traditional news cycles, and the typical guidelines of releasing bad news late on Friday afternoons and good stories on Monday mornings, an intriguing point was raised. A recent convert from the media, who had been in TV news for 30 years, said that given the current state of TV news in our Market (Tampa Bay), she thinks releasing the bad stories on a Tuesday morning is the best strategy. 

Bob, that must have been some bad news...
Her reasoning is that the bad news would be erased in short order by the busiest days of the news cycle, which are typically mid-week. She also made the point, based on her former station operations and our local 24 hour news station, that stories reported on Friday afternoons are repeated in broadcasts throughout the weekend due to lack of weekend news staff. She said her previous station would have aired a compelling bad news story from Friday evening all weekend long, with a final airing on Monday morning. 

I have to say, that the more I thought about this, the more it piqued my interest. She makes a good point given our market, but there are other factors at work too. For instance:
  • How many people will actually see that report over the weekend as opposed to weekday coverage? 
  • How many outlets will be able to cover it on Friday evening as opposed to those with mid-week staff? 
Of course, the media markets in which we all work vary widely and that affects the coverage a release would get. Also to be considered is how much traction the social media posts get during the week as opposed to the weekends and how quickly bad news stories will be pushed down in the stream to be considered off the radar?
Assignment editors sift through a lot of potential story ideas
So what do you think about this proposition? We’ve put together a short poll below to find out what our counterparts in other markets are doing.

Bob Lasher, External Affairs Manager
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

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