Imagine that you had lunch with an important client or prospect. You thought you had plenty of time, but the client/prospect got chatty, the restaurant was jammed and service was slow. 

It’s now about 1:45 and you’re due back at the office for an important 2:00 o’clock meeting. You can’t afford to be late. If you hit the traffic lights just right, you’ll walk into the conference room right on time. 

But you don’t hit the first couple of lights just right, and you’re starting to sweat. 

Then at 1:55, half a mile from the office, you see the blocking arms coming down just as you’re pulling up to a the train crossing. A freight train lumbers into view. 

Now you’re really sweating about being late. 

Ever had that feeling? Not fun, huh? 

That’s the feeling most people in the news business live with. Not just once in a while either. 

Every day. 

Unless you’ve been through it, you can’t imagine the gut-wrenching and hand-wringing that goes on as a deadline approaches and you’re battling to get your column written, your radio report ready, or your TV live shot on the air. 

There are constant challenges — 

Journalistic: Is my information accurate? Have I confirmed it? Is there anything important I’m leaving out? Will my competition have something I don’t? 

Human: there are other people screwing up their jobs all around you, but you still have to get yours done as if everything and everyone performed flawlessly. 

Technical: Computers crash, cameras and tape recorders don’t work, tires go flat. Technological advances in newsgathering have been breathtaking since I got into the business in. But one thing hasn’t changed: Murphy’s Law. 

Throw all these challenges together, and simply doing your job everyday can get fairly uncomfortable. 

For an interesting insight into what I mean here, go to:

…It’s the story of a near-disaster I experienced shortly after I had done an interview with former President Gerald Ford.

I’m not asking for sympathy here. If you’re in the business, you know that’s how it is and you accept it. It’s part of the job description. It ‘comes with the territory.’ 

I’m describing it to you, however, so you know the normal mental state, the mindset of the people you’ll be dealing with when you’re trying to get free publicity for yourself or your business. 
And the mindset is ‘get to the point, tell me what I need to know, and don’t waste my time with anything unnecessary.’ 

When I was doing a weeknight sportscast at KMOL TV in San Antonio, I used to hang a sign on my office door every night at ‘crunch time,’ which was 60 minutes or so before I went on the air. 

The sign read: 
‘If it’s important, say it fast. 
If it’s not, say it later.’ 

As you send your press releases to people in the media, keep that in mind. Nothing will hurt your chances of getting publicity from them as much as wasting their time with non-essential stuff. 
Help them ‘beat the clock,’ and they’ll be more likely to help you ‘beat the drum’ by giving you thousands of dollars worth of coverage — and free publicity. 

George McKenzie offers free tips, techniques and tactics for using the media to attract new customers and drive up sales without spending cash on advertising. He has more than 30 years experience as an award-winning radio and TV journalist. His work has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN and CNN.

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