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The death of the deadline

by Matthew Hart

It’s official – online news and social media has killed the traditional deadline. Left in its wake is the ever-demanding “rolling deadline” – a deadline that blurs all time-zones and borders, pressuring news outlets to provide a constant stream of information to satisfy need-it-now audiences.

The exponential growth of online news and social media has signified a fundamental shift in the way stories are reported. The pressure of online news has made “rolling deadlines” the norm, even for media outlets which traditionally had a set weekly or monthly deadline.With this ever-changing news environment it’s no wonder, then, that journalists are starting to feel the pressure. According to the 2012 BBS Media Survey, almost 40 per cent of journalists said they felt more pressure to get a story online first. The rise of social media means there are more platforms – and more pressure – to get a story published and then continually add to that story during the day, complemented by a number of Facebook and Twitter posts.

So what does this mean for media relations?

For organisations, it is important to understand the deadlines of the media you are proactively pitching stories to. For reactive media, the faster you respond, the faster you can contribute to the discussion out there.

Getting something to a media organisation by “close of business” might simply be too late. Those spokespeople who are most accessible will not only rise to the top of the story, they will be remembered by the journalist as good talent for future stories.

A few things to consider when you’ve got something to say:

  • Deadlines vary dramatically between different media outlets – get your timing right!
  • News radio journalists are busiest during the morning (some are on air every 15 minutes during breakfast radio) and the middle parts of the day because of their continual deadlines.
  • Daily print deadlines are concentrated in the afternoon, particularly between 3pm and 5pm.
  • Online media outlets are most affected by the continuous news cycle and generally a journalist’s deadline is as soon as he or she can finish the story.
  • The more accessible you are as a spokesperson and sensitive to media deadlines, the more chances you have of coverage and being asked for more comment down the track.