There are moments when a certain story simply takes over the world. Or a country, or a city or a small town. The scale really does not matter, the effect is the same: every media outlet will cover that major event. It’s a journalistic rule you learn in the first year of journalism school. If something is really big, it takes over and becomes the most important piece of news, regardless of anything else.
Such events are the royal wedding we’ve just had, big elections, the earthquake in Japan, or Osama being killed. For a longer or shorter stretch of time, they have the spotlight and no one can compete. And it’s not just lifestyle magazines or political newspapers that cover them! Tech blogs and magazines will talk about the Twitter user who live tweeted the attack on Osama, financial newspapers will analyze the cost of the royal wedding or analyze the impact on foreign markets a natural disaster has. Travel outlets will talk about the travelers taking over London or the travel warnings issued after the Osama bin Laden death.
Sure, all these outlets will still need other stories to publish, you cannot fill an entire edition with one story and the related ones you can think of! But will the other stories matter as much? Will anyone notice them? Those who are interested in the main event will overlook everything else, those who’ve had it with it will simply log off for the day. Therefore, at times like these, the best approach is to postpone your pitch unless it is directly related with the main event and strong enough to make it through the clutter. For example, if you’re the company providing the wedding flowers or designing the dress, you could pitch your story and actually get tons of attention. If you’re a small restaurant that decided to celebrate the wedding and are throwing a party with a longer than usual happy hour, the BBC will probably not publish your press release!
So instead of fighting for 5 seconds in a day where it means 5 seconds of being ignored, but on the air, it’s better to postpone your announcement. Plus, in case of major disasters, if you also have the bad luck of them occurring in your country or city, you and your client might be perceived as heartless. Unless you have a big event planned for months ahead, with press conference, partner meetings and people expecting you to show up, just put it off for a while!
You might see it as a hassle, but it’s not all bad. From each event, there is something to be learned. Don’t believe me? Have you read or heard President Obama’s speech on bin Laden being killed? If not, read it now, and also read this article by the Bad Pitch Blog providing valuable insight on what events like these can teach you.