Jeremy Kartchner is a Partner at Snapp Conner PR and has more than 15 years experience in both technology and sports PR. In addition to his responsibilities with Snapp Conner PR, Kartchner also works with the Utah Jazz as a member of its Game Night public relations staff where he is responsible for tracking and providing game time statistics for local, national and international media and conducting pre and post game player and coach interviews. He’s a sports fan, golfer, father of three, husband to one hottie, partially bionic, cavity free, Olympics junkie and wanna be blogger.
I can’t believe I’m starting a blog this way, with a definition. It makes me feel like I’m back in junior high again when everybody started term papers with a definition from Webster’s Dictionary. In this instance though, I feel that it’s actually appropriate because nobody seems to get or understand what a deadline is anymore.
So, without further adieu, here goes. According to Miriam-Webster, a deadline is:
- A line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot.
- A date or time before which something must be done the time after which copy is not accepted for a particular issue of a publication.
I’ll admit, I like the first definition, but it’s the second that I’m more concerned with. Especially, as it relates to public relations and what from my perspective seems to be an inability to understand what a deadline is let alone the ability to meet a deadline. This inability spans all walks of business life, including the public relations industry that I work in that encompasses the media who are constantly on deadline to public relations professionals themselves and the clients that I deal with.
Several months ago, a close friend told me he uses an integrated PR/marketing/advertising agency. This friend has some of the best relationships with media of anybody I know and flat out told me that he doesn’t use the agency for any PR work because he can do it better than them. He uses them for the advertising and design side of their agency. The one complaint he has though is their inability to meet a deadline.
He assigns a deadline for a project and as the deadline approaches he has to follow up with them to see if they’re going to make the deadline or not. More often than not they say they will and then fail to do so. On the rare occasion that they are able to achieve the deadline it’s simply because he’s specified a date without an exact time. The project will be e-mailed to him at 11:59 pm the day of and the agency claims to have made its deadline.
In my experience, I’ve seen the same things happen and have experienced it from clients who promise certain things by a certain deadline only to have the day pass without delivering what they promised. In these cases, great opportunities for coverage in Tier 1 media outlets has been lost, all because a deadline couldn’t be met.
In one recent example, a Tier 1 media outlet was working on an article that related directly to an initiative one of my clients was pursuing and trying to actively establish itself as a thought leader. The editor told us what her deadline was and the executive who would conduct the interview couldn’t find the time in his schedule to accommodate the interview within the reporters deadline.
He had a vacation planned and wasn’t willing to do a simple 20 minute phone interview before he left for vacation. The executive asked for an extension and the editor granted the extra time requested. Upon the date agreed upon after the executive’s vacation, the executive decided he needed more time and asked for another extension. At this point, the reporter said she had enough information from other sources and wrote her story without including my client. The client was stunned.
I was not stunned. I was more surprised that the editor actually gave an extension to begin with. With this example fresh on the mind, here are a few tips to help set and meet deadlines.
- Give plenty of time. My son has regular book reports for his fifth grade class. He usually has about 30-45 days to read the book and then write his report. Forty-five days is plenty of time to read a book and write a review. His teacher has created her lesson plans and knows when the book reports are due and how much time she’ll need to review and grade the reports. She gives the students plenty of time to find, read and write the reports as well as enough time for her to grade the book reports. On a few occasions, my son has delayed telling us about the book report for a couple weeks and then worries that he won’t have enough time, but the teacher gave ample time for the assignment to be completed.
- Prioritize. Some projects or assignments are more important that others. When you have more than one project you’re working on you should know which ones are more important than others. If you don’t ask your boss or supervisor. In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, one of the characters is stealing a TV. He’s got the TV rested on his shoulder when the police arrive and one of the officers points his gun at him and yells, “Freeze! Put your hands in the air.” The thief stands there and the cop asks him why he didn’t do what he was asked to do, and he responds, “Well which one is it? Freeze or put my hands in the air?
- Communicate. If a boss or supervisor comes and gives you an assignment, don’t be afraid to tell him or her what other projects you’re currently working on. If they give you a new assignment with an aggressive deadline and you’re already working under another tight deadline with this boss, remind them of that fact. Provide them with a recommendation and strategy for how you’ll accomplish both but emphasis that it may require a delay in one of the deadlines. By talking to them and communicating these issues they can agree to your strategy or provide other input. Either way, they’ll be aware and you’ll have their buy off.
- Set milestones: I believe that milestones play a critical role in accomplishing and meeting any deadline. In the first bullet point I described my son’s book report assignments. When my son tells us about these assignments, my wife and I (usually more my wife than me) sit down with him and set goals and milestones for accomplishing the book report. We start by setting a date to have identified a book for him to read. The next step is setting a goal for reading the book followed by a target date for writing the report. If one of these milestones is not accomplished we can sit down and review why it wasn’t met and identify what we need to do to still meet the deadline.
The ability to meet a deadline is an important component to every aspect of life. By meeting deadlines you become a trusted resource to your company and a vital component to its long-term success.
What are your best practices for meeting deadlines?
Author: Jeremy Kartchner | Google+