When I was 10 years old, I was supposed to meet my Dad on a well-lit downtown street corner. The plan was for him to pick me up following my piano lesson while he was on his way home from work.
It was a February evening, and it was cold and dark. After about 30 minutes, I ducked into a diner and called home to find out why I had been left out in the cold. It turns out, Dad did come for me. Since I was goofing around, I missed him.
My father eventually picked me up, and he used the ride home to impress upon me the importance to keeping my word and meeting deadlines. He considered this a sign of respect.
This also is true in public relations.
Every writer, reporter and editor has to meet a deadline. As someone who participates in the flow of information, reporters trust me to deliver interviews and follow up materials on time. It is my job to respect their deadlines.
When that system breaks down, stress and chaos ensue. Recently, a reporter needed a chart to accompany an article. Our client’s design was late getting approved and the deadline was missed. The editor then had a hole to fill and was forced to scramble to find substitute material. Because of the missed deadline, the client’s story ran only in the online edition and they lost out on the opportunity to also be in the print edition of the publication.
The bigger challenge was rebuilding the trust relationship with the reporter to secure additional opportunities for my client to be featured in that publication.
It’s easy to say, “It’s only a day late” or “It’s just this one time.” But missing a deadline can ruin a company’s chances of ever getting covered again in a publication. That’s a chance we don’t like to take.