Timing is Everything — Especially When It Comes to News Conferences.

In a hastily called news conference, J.P. Morgan announced it’s posting a $2B loss. Ouch.

After the market closed on Thursday, May 10, 2012, J.P. Morgan went public with its really bad news for Wall Street and the world.

Why was the conference held late in the day on Thursday and quickly thrown together by the PR folks? Well, as we say in the biz, timing is everything.

Well, people say that about everything, don’t they?

Of course, J.P. Morgan execs didn’t announce the bombshell doing the daily trading session. Only God knows what could have happened. Busy traders getting calls from clients with “sell, sell, sell” instructions. How would the vulnerable and fragile banks have responded? Basically, nothing good comes from making an announcement during the middle of trading, only bad.

PR practitioners put a lot of thought into when to announce things. Recently, in my town, a magazine ceased publication and made the announcement on the slowest news day of the year. Bad timing. Well, wait a minute — they were going out of business, right? But the daily media push products and articles in the print and broadcast versions were large and negative and won’t help the fired staff get a job. Also, the parent publishing company didn’t beat the employees to the punch. The employees were tweeting about the closures hours before the news release. Bad timing.

I had a boss once who wanted to hold Sunday news conferences. But he was Jewish and observed on Saturday, so I guess he thought it was OK. Well, when I asked him about the Sunday shindig, he had a very good response: “It has nothing to do with my religion. Simply put, it’s a slow news day, and we’ll get good coverage. Secondly, it’s good to do stories with weekend assignment people who are not as knowledgeable about possible negativity in our situation.” Now that was some strategic thinking.

There are many textbooks that suggest what is the “very best day to do news conferences.” Well, textbooks are prone to generalizations and broad, sweeping edicts. A much more sensible approach is to tailor your announcement to what you are trying to accomplish. A big splash? Do that on a slow news day. Trying to bury a story? Do that on a busy, breaking news day (like a blizzard) or late Friday when staffing changes over at the media outlets. Most importantly, think about it. What is the best approach to getting the desired coverage?

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