An image of Jesus has appeared in a loaf of bread, there’s a cow in Cornwall that moos in a regional accent and a chicken in Yorkshire has laid an unusually large egg.
It can mean only one thing – it’s ‘silly season’. That time of year – the six to eight weeks in late July, August and early September – when the media is overtaken by the seemingly irreverent and inconsequential.
Admittedly, this year has been slightly different with continued coverage of Brexit and the great success of Team GB at the Rio Olympics.
But in general there’s just not much ‘real’ news around – Parliament is in recess, councils aren’t meeting and most people are off enjoying their summer holidays.
But newspaper pages and websites have to be filled somehow. Cue stories on killer chipmunks, squirrels in south east London addicted to cocaine and a constellation that – when joined together – looks like the face of One Foot in the Grave star Richard Wilson.
Alternatively you’ve got the senseless survey – why Leigh on Sea is the happiest place to live in the UK, a study into why Marmite haters could soon learn to love it and research that shows the best way to woo a woman is to wear a red shirt.
All of the above were actually printed in some form or another; I think Richard Wilson may even have got a double page spread. And while I’m sure to someone somewhere they’re all very worthy stories, they’re unlikely to have seen the light of day at other times of year.
That’s why the summer months are a great opportunity for PR professionals. Media outlets – national and regional – are crying out for good content both in print and online.
As a former hack my inbox would all too often be inundated with press releases and story ideas that were of no interest to our readers or had – at best – a very tenuous connection to our region.
Tailoring your releases and story ideas to suit target publications is key.
Obviously you can’t guarantee that they’ll be used – you’re still at the whim of the individual journalist or news editor – but sending something that actually has relevance to their readership will get you off to a good start (and at least put whoever you’re speaking too into a better mood).
If you include a decent photo or video for the web then you’re 95% of the way there.
If you can provide decent copy at a time of year when it’s a struggle to fill pages, the journalist at the other end of the telephone will be eternally grateful.
It’s a great chance to build relationships and demonstrate that you’re aware of what the publication in questions needs; making it more likely that they’ll turn to you and your client for comment even at a time when the news agenda is a little more buoyant.
The summer months provide a golden opportunity. Why waste it?