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Time is of the Essence Solocast with Jason Mudd of Axia Public Relations

By On Top of PR

Jason Mudd On Top of PR solocast

In this solocast, On Top of PR host Jason Mudd discusses why time is of the essence. Media relations requires quick responses because reporters are typically on deadline, therefore Jason goes into depth about how you can be more timely and responsive to journalists' inquiries.


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5 things you’ll learn during the full episode:

  1. Why time is of the essence for media relations
  2. How to be more timely and responsive to journalists 
  3. Why you should pad deadlines
  4. The definition of newsjacking
  5. What to do in 2024 for better media relations 

Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.



  • “In the news business, time is of the essence.” - Jason Mudd
  • “The news moves fast, and if your news is not hard, your news is not breaking news, and if it doesn't have one of the 10 elements of news, then you're not as likely to get news coverage.” - Jason Mudd
  • “Newsjacking is when you hear of a story trending in the news, and you have the ability to hook onto that news story or tie or place or insert yourself, your employer or your expert into that trending story.” - Jason Mudd


Additional Episode Resources:

Additional Resources from Axia Public Relations:

Episode Highlights

[01:00] Why time is of the essence

Jason Mudd: “In the news business, time is of the essence.”

  • Some of Axia’s clients in 2023 were slow to take advantage of media relations opportunities.
  • Newsjacking is a timely way to get earned media.
  • The media is almost always on deadline, so you have to take advantage of what they’re interested in.
  • Journalists will always pick the more timely and newsworthy story.

Jason Mudd: “The news moves fast, and if your news is not hard, your news is not breaking news, and if it doesn't have one of the 10 elements of news, then you're not as likely to get news coverage.”


[05:50] How to avoid timely issues with journalists

  • Organizations don’t understand it’s about the media and topic timing –– not your timing –– to get earned media coverage.
  • Be flexible in responding to journalists’ requests to maximize your coverage.
  • Adjust and do interviews over the phone, Zoom, or email.


[08:53] How to respond to journalists with earned media coverage inquires

  • Respond to media inquiries timely.
  • Always tell the media you’re working on setting something up for them.
  • Respond that you'll be reaching out with information so they stay interested. 
  • Always ask them: 
    • What’s your deadline?
    • What’s your angle?
    • Who else are you talking to?


[11:46] Padding Deadlines

  • Once you know the journalist's deadline, make sure you state internally their deadline is earlier than it is.
  • This allows you to have wiggle room in finalizing who you want to speak to the journalist and/or any quotes you have for them
  • This makes sure that you are always getting back to the journalist in time to be in their newstory 


[15:26] Newsjacking

Jason Mudd: “Newsjacking is when you hear of a story trending in the news, and you have the ability to hook onto that news story or tie or place or insert yourself, your employer, or your expert into that trending story.”


[15:56] What to do in 2024 for better media relations

  • Focus on timelines and responsiveness.
  • Have a team ready to respond to media opportunities … even if it's through a DM to your social media account!
  • Say something not everyone else is saying so journalists want to quote or add you to stories.

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Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.



Hello, and welcome to On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd, and this episode is brought to you by ReviewMaxer, and today it is a solocast where we are talking one-on-one here, just you and me. I don't have an expert guest today. I've got myself, and I am a public relations expert who's been working in the communication field for 25 years, and today I want to talk about a media relations topic and help you get earned media. 


Today's episode we're talking about time is of the essence, and I bring this up because I'm recording this in early 2024, and as I look back and kind of think of some of the things that I saw in 2023 that I didn't like, I'm reminded of several situations where we had clients lined up to do or with opportunities to talk to media or reporters, maybe even Newsjack, a particular topic that was trending in the news.

And unfortunately, our clients were just slow to respond. They're busy, they have other things going on, or they really didn't get the sense of urgency that was involved in that particular story. So that's why I'm decided to spend today's solo cast. Just talking a little bit about time is of the essence. For those of you that have never worked in a newsroom or maybe you haven't done a lot of media relations work in your career, what you'll find is that the media is almost always on deadline. They're working on stories and stories happen quick. So what they're interested in today, they're probably not going to be interested in as much tomorrow and certainly not as interested in a matter of days or even a week. Sometimes the media is not even interested in a story hours or an hour later. So in the news business, time is of the essence and the news moves really fast and can change at any given moment.

There's been circumstances where maybe our agency, perhaps many years ago, we were putting on a news conference where one of our clients was donating like a million dollars to a nonprofit or some large sum like that, and we had several local media trucks arrive on site of the news conference, which was happening at this nonprofits center and literally three or four trucks or vehicles from local TV stations and were there with their logos on it and they might've even been going live at the time. There were also obviously print and web and radio journalists there as well. And so they got there early professionals, some of them are still sitting in the car, maybe checking their email or prepping their script and maybe the talent that's going to ask questions or that's going to be on air is prepping their hair and makeup to be ready to go on the air.

And some of those people are making their way inside again, some are still in the car, and all of a sudden I see as I'm kind of out in the front greeting media and waiting on them, I see one news truck back out and drive off. All of a sudden, no explanation, no reason, they're just gone, and they were originally there and going to be there to cover the event, but now they're gone, and I wasn't sure what was going on. Then I see another news truck do the same thing, pull out of the driveway, our parking lot back out and drive off the parking lot and leave, and our event was just about to get started, so I wasn't sure what was happening. Then a journalist who is already inside is starting to leave as well, and I said, Hey, what's going on? Why suddenly is everybody leaving?

And he's like, oh, it's easy. There's a hostage situation, and it's in this region or this area of town and we're right here. And while this donation is a great feel-good story, the cliche in news is if it bleeds, it leads, and suddenly we've got a new story that has bigger headlines, more scandalous, more attractive to audiences. Then believe it or not, unfortunately, a feel-good story, like a million-dollar donation to a worthy nonprofit. Now what happened is time is of the essence, right? This was a lives hostage situation within a mile away from where we were doing this event, and it just was a higher, more prominent newsworthy type topic that would be more scandalous and have more conflict and have more interest among viewers and audience than a million dollar donation and a kind of scheduled check presentation, which is just kind of set up ahead of time and not as breaking of a news story.

So I'm giving that example to explain that the news moves fast, and if your news is not hard, your news is not breaking news, and if it doesn't have one of the 10 elements of news which we will link to in the episode notes for your convenience, then you're not as likely to get news coverage. But more importantly is the time is of the essence element. So my example shared is that journalism and news moves fast and whatever is the most interesting story happening the quickest is where they're going to spend their time and attention. And so again, what I see is too often corporations, organizations are busy and they've got other plans, they want media coverage, but they don't understand the significance of how it's about the media's timing or frankly the topic's, timing the trends, timing the news, stories, timing, not your timing, and frankly sometimes not their timing, although they pivot and adjust their timing to accommodate those needs.

And that's what I'm encouraging you to do –– is that sometimes you have to be flexible in what your schedule is like, and maybe that might mean bumping or canceling part of your schedule, part of your day, part of your plans to respond to the journalist request. And so some of our clients are very willing to do that. They understand that they're very flexible, others don't really understand the importance of it. And the other issue we've run into is when, say, the CEO is a spokesperson or some other executive in the organization is the official spokesperson or the expert on that topic, and maybe they're out of town, maybe they're flying, maybe they're traveling, maybe they're putting on a meeting or even a conference. But the truth is in the modern era, we all have cell phones, we all have mobile devices, we're all digitally connected an interview, whether that's video, using Zoom or some other video recording platform, or just doing a phone interview or a phoner; it can be easily done.

Not all interviews have to be in person. In fact, nowadays when I was coming up in journalism, doing an early in my PR career offering to do an interview through email where questions were submitted and then responded to was very frowned upon, considered unprofessional, and now I see that being more commonplace in the norm than doing other interviews that are either in person or even through a video interface or even a telephone. So lots of journalists will send questions ahead of time, and that makes honestly a journalist's job really easy because then they can just copy and paste what you submitted to them and turn it into a story or at least a quote, and then they don't have to worry about misquoting you or something being misunderstood because they just copied and pasted it. It also can create some ease for the expert getting interviewed because now that they are getting questions ahead of time, their anxiety is less and their approval process seems easier.

A lot of times people want questions ahead of time, and historically and given the circumstances, perhaps journalists aren't willing to give the questions ahead of time. I've always joked that if you ask them to give you questions ahead of time, that means they have to actually do homework and prepare for the interview instead of just ad-libbing and being spontaneous. There's some value for sure in being prepared. There's value for sure in being spontaneous and conversational and having a conversation and just letting the conversation guide the direction of where it's going. But when you ask a journalist to give you questions ahead of time, sometimes that's inconvenient or just not their style, or they frankly just don't have time because they're literally running to the next story and to the next story and the next story and the next story. It depends on the outlet. Some outlets are going to write or do.

Individual reporters are going to do one story a day. Sometimes they might have to do 2, 3, 4, or five stories a day. Obviously, the more they have to do, the less substance that they have them, the less depth they're able to go into on each one. And then there's other environments where they're writing one or they're producing one story a month, one story a week. It just depends on the outlet and the expectations as well as the role of the individual within that organization. The point is that when you get a media request, you need to respond to it timely. My initial response would be, Hey, we got this, and we're working on it, or we received your request, and we are unable to accommodate it, or we're working to accommodate it, or we want to accommodate it, and here's the person that we have in mind.

Just give them some interaction that you've received it and you're working on it. Then you need to keep them up to date. Set an expectation. Please expect to hear from me within the hour. Please expect to hear from me later today, or I know our executive is traveling, but he should be available or she should be available this afternoon or tomorrow morning. You always want to ask, what's your deadline? What's your angle? And if they'll tell you who else are you talking to? Now, they may not yet know who else they're talking to, they may not want to tell you who else they're talking to, but you definitely want to get a sense of what's their angle and what's their deadline, because absolutely, you don't want to spin your wheels or alert your executive team or your executive in the event that you just can't possibly meet their deadline, but you also want to have a sense of urgency as to whether or not their deadline is an hour that afternoon the next day, later that week.

I know recently I was involved in a story where much to my surprise, the reporter was television show and the reporter said that she had a whole week to work on a story, and I was think to myself, A week for a daily television show is just a whole lot of notice, but it worked out great because I had the extra time. I was able to find an even better source than I originally would've thought of. For her, I knew that source would take a little time to connect with and recruit, but the source was great and did a great job, and she was very happy with the story. So again, it's always very important to talk about deadlines. The other thing I would add is I'm a big believer in padding deadlines, and what I mean by padding deadlines is if you get a call from a journalist and they have a media request like, Hey, I'd like to talk to somebody there who's an expert on this particular topic, can you help me out?

I will say, I'd be glad to help. What's your deadline? Who else are you talking to, and what's your angle? Like I said earlier, once you ask them those three questions and you know what their deadline is, then I'm going to pad that deadline. So if it's 10 a.m. and the journalist is calling me, they just got out of their, what's called sometimes called a budget meeting, where they're budgeting for the stories that they're going to do for the day or a planning meeting where they're planning out the stories they're going to do for the day. Once I have that deadline and I know what the deadline is, and so let's say they're calling me at 10 a.m. and they tell me their deadline is 3 p.m. to talk to somebody, then I'm going to make sure I'm telling internally I'm saying, Hey, their deadline is 1:30 or 2 –– not to mislead, but to create an even greater sense of urgency and to create a sense or the ability to pad it if that deadline takes longer. 


So maybe I can't talk to the executive until 1:30 or 2, and maybe we're responding via email with their thoughts; that leaves me time to be able to collect the information, improve upon it, message it just right, and then submit it to the reporter and hopefully, ideally a chance for the client to be able to look it over with me as well. So I might say, Hey, the deadline is 3, but I need to be meeting with you at 1 so that we can have our conversation done by 1:30, and then I've got 30 minutes to an hour or 30 minutes to review it, draft it, and improve it, and then put it in front of you for final review and approval.

Also, you need time oftentimes to coach and advise your client, or in this case, maybe your employer or your leadership team member, and you need to have time to be a trusted advisor to them. That's one of the things I talk about on this podcast and in other situations is one of the often overlooked advantages of using an outside PR agency is the more you outsource to a PR firm or a communication agency like ours, then you have the opportunity to really rise above the day-to-day deliverables and tactics and focus on being a trusted advisor to your leadership team. Give them your wise counsel, and be available to them to jump in on meetings to help address issues and solve problems and just be that trusted advisor to them. But you can't be that in that role as an advisor and have the open mind and schedule and calendar and mindset to be there to walk side by side and help them.

If you're in the back of your mind thinking of all the things you've got to do today, your to-do list is getting longer, your email box is filling up, maybe you've got voicemails you've got to return or text messages and other things you've got to get to for your business, or for your company and your employer. That doesn't give you the opportunity to be fresh and be in the moment and give them your undivided attention, especially if you're the one out there doing the media pitching, doing the writing and all that stuff. Now, you might have a team to do that, which is great, but it also benefits to have an outside agency at your disposal to help you do the ongoing strategy tactics, messaging, and planning. And then you are there again, as that trusted advisor. I mentioned Newsjacking earlier, I will do a dedicated solocast by request because I've received requests for that in the near future.

But the idea is newsjacking is when you hear of a story trending in the news and you have the ability to hook onto that news story or tie or place or insert yourself, your employer or your expert into that trending story. And so newsjacking is something that has been very popular in the PR business for a long time and something that people love to talk about, especially potential clients or clients of our agency who maybe have never heard that term before. So I'll dive in a little bit deeper to that, but in 2024, as you're thinking about media relations and how you can improve your media relations program this year, I would say timeliness and responsiveness should be at the top of that list so that when a journalist contacts you and is looking for a story, or maybe you've gotten a media request through a service bureau like Harrow or Harrow, ProfNet quoted, et cetera, there's several of them out there and they're looking to connect with experts in certain areas.

If you've got an expert internally, you need to be responsive to those. I've seen media requests come through to our agency through a DM on social media, through a text message to me, or a phone call to me and one of our team members. We've also just seen people put out on Twitter, Hey, I'm looking for this if you know somebody or on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. So monitor for those, of course, but make sure you've got a team committed internally to react to those opportunities because those opportunities are going to often go to the first person that responds and or the person who responds timely with contrarian, provocative and unique points of view that are somewhat different than what everyone else is talking about. I'm pretty sure we've done a podcast on that before, so I'll be sure to have us linked in the episode notes to that particular solo cast where we talked about the importance of saying something interesting, provocative, contrarian, and unique from what everyone else is saying.

Because if you want to get media coverage and you want to be highlighted in the media and featured in the media and become a go-to source, one, you've got to be professionally prompt like we just talked about. Two, you've got to say something that not everybody else is saying, and if you can do both of those at the same time, you will absolutely stand out from the competition. You'll become a trusted, reliable source in that journalist in their phone and their contacts and back in the day, what we used to say their Rolodex, and that is the essence of good media relations is respecting deadlines, responding promptly, saying something that's quotable, saying something that's interesting, helpful, and ideally different than what everybody else is saying. If you need help with these things, reach out to us. We'd be happy to help you. Whether it be spokesperson training to help you speak better in sound bites, how to do better interviews, how to be more confident interviews, how to have the right posture, the right dress, the right messaging for those interviews.

We do that type of work all the time. If you need somebody out there proactively pitching your organization and your experts to the national media, the industry media, maybe even the local media where you have locations or you're doing business, we can help you with that, too. If you need a plan for just simply how to handle inbound media inquiries and a process for that and a process of vetting those, we can do that for you. That's yet another benefit of having an agency is you can kind of outsource or delegate or point them to be those point people that take those inbound media queries that come. But again, there's also just media queries that are posted out there on the internet, and you should be monitoring for them or hiring a PR firm to be keeping an eye out for those types of things, because time is of the essence, as I mentioned earlier, and news moves at a very quick pace, and they want that instant gratification to find somebody as quickly as possible. And if you can't respond quickly, somebody else can. 


And so that's your way to make a great connection in the media. So in 2024, I want you to get even more media coverage than you got in the previous years, and one way to do it is to be quick in responding and responding with quality. So with that, this is Jason Mudd signing off, helping you stay on top of PR.



This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. And check out past shows at ontopofpr.com.


Sponsored by:

  • On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.
  • On Top of PR is sponsored by ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.


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About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.


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Topics: earned media, news media, On Top of PR, solocast

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