How The Media News Cycle Works

Have you ever noticed that most media outlets are talking about the same thing at the same time? That’s not a coincidence. There’s this thing called the news cycle: the flow of news stories that the media follows, collectively. Here’s how the news cycle works, and how to make it work for you in a way that encourages media coverage for your business.

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE NEWS CYCLE

Generally, there are three types of news that the media covers:

  • Evergreen: Stories that are always relevant and can happen all year-round, such as starting a business or going on vacation.

  • Timely: Unforeseen stories that weren’t planned for or expected, such as a viral video.

  • Seasonal: Stories that re-occur every year, but are relevant during specific times. For example: the Oscars, summer travel, and the holiday season.

These kinds of stories can overlap, but for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on seasonal news.

HOW TO IDENTIFY SEASONAL STORIES IN THE NEWS CYCLE

We’ve already identified that seasonal stories are those that happen at a specific time of year. This means that they can be planned for ahead of time. One of the ways the media plans for seasonal stories is through editorial calendars. An editorial calendar, or ed cal, is a general guideline of the content a publication will create throughout the entire year.

For example, Essence’s 2019 editorial calendar includes themes for every month, and they outline November as the “Tech Issue.” This means Essence is more likely to publish content related to this specific topic vs. something else during that time. Being aware of a publication’s editorial calendar will make collaborating with the journalists much easier. Because the media is so busy, they’re more likely to respond to your emails if they’re relevant to something they’re already working on.

Most editorial calendars can be found with a quick Google search (for example: “Essence 2019 editorial calendar”). They can also be found hiding within the publication’s media kit or advertising section of their website. 

NEWS CYCLES FOR DIGITAL MEDIA VS. MAGAZINES

Digital publications and blogs move at a really fast pace because they publish multiple pieces of content per day. This means that digital media platforms may have an editorial calendar with general themes that guides them throughout the year (like holidays,  events, cultural activities, etc.). But, they will also remain flexible for timely news that happens day-to-day. 

Magazines work on a much longer timeframe, and don’t cover the news as it happens on a day-to-day basis. They typically work three to six months ahead of schedule with guidelines on what they’ll cover. 

HOW TO MAKE THE NEWS CYCLE WORK FOR YOU

Now that you know what the media cycle is and how it works, what does this mean for you and your business? It means that you’ll be able to be a better resource for the media, which means you can build better relationships with the media, which means your story and your business are more likely to be shared and included in media articles.

With this in mind, ask yourself these questions:

  • How can you integrate your target publication’s editorial calendar into your own editorial or content calendar?

  • How can you tell your story in a way that’s relevant to what’s happening in this season?

  • Are there parts of your story or your business that are more relevant during specific times?


If you have questions about editorial calendars and the news cycle, drop them below in the comments!

A portion of this article is an excerpt from the digital workbook Good Influence, a guide to being your own publicist. Get the full workbook here.