By: Chris Piehler
As we welcome a new year, there’s no better time than the present to talk about a tricky aspect of data-driven storytelling: timing. For ed tech marketers looking to tell stories that build relationships with chronically busy educators, when a story appears can be just as important as what it’s about.
Since we’ve already blogged about the “what” (as in what format your story should take and what three elements it must contain), this post is all about the “when.” Here are five tips to help you plan when to share your story with the world.
- Keep the academic calendar in mind. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. An article that gets published in the middle of a state assessment period may fizzle, while the same article published three weeks earlier could sizzle. In fact, many education publications have a lighter publishing schedule during the summer because they expect that their audience won’t be focused on work. On the other side of the coin, educators are often thirsty for new knowledge just before heading into a new school year, so mid-August through mid-September can be a smart time to publish.
- The media loves seasonal content. No matter what your preferred source of news and entertainment, you’ve seen this idea in action. Throughout December, you were bombarded with slews of “The Best of 2017” stories, and since the new year began, it’s all about “Looking Forward to 2018.”
As a former magazine editor, I can tell you this: editors and producers love seasonal content because readers love it, and readers love it because it connects to experiences that we all have in common. Everyone celebrates the new year or the fourth of July at the same time, so tying stories to those events will automatically make people pay more attention.
Remember, though, that seasonal stories don’t have to focus on blockbuster holidays like Christmas. One of PRP’s great triumphs of 2017 was putting together a pitch about Columbus Day that was just edgy enough to get our client into a prestigious national ed tech publication.
- If your story is related to current events, get it out there sooner rather than later. Connecting your story to a wider news story is a powerful way to attract attention, but it only works for a limited time. Remember all those reports back in December about the government’s secret alien-research program? Me neither.
- Try to avoid publishing on Mondays and Fridays. If you’re placing an article in a media outlet, you probably won’t have control over the exact day it appears. If you’re sharing your story on a blog or social network, though, do yourself a favor and stick to middle of the week when you have the best chance of capturing eyeballs. While that’s a good rule of thumb, it also brings me to my last tip:
- The best time to publish is when your ideal reader is there to read. Remember a few lines ago when I said not to publish on a Friday? Well, as with every rule, there are exceptions. It could be that the superintendent you’re trying to reach likes to unwind with a little light reading at the end of the week. I know some of our clients who swear by sending emails on Sunday night, which seems counterintuitive to me—but they have learned over time that that’s when they can count on the most opens and click-throughs.
The only way you can know for sure when the best time is to connect with your audience is by publishing different types of content at different times, and seeing how it performs. That said, I wish you a happy new year full of delightful (and well-timed) stories!
Thanks for sharing!