Everything You Need To Know About Long-Lead and Short-Lead Media

In the world of public relations, there are two types of media you definitely need to know: long lead and short lead. Print magazines are an example of long-lead media, because editors are working usually 4 to 5 months ahead of an issue hitting the newsstands. Meaning, in April, editors are already planning and working on stories for July and August. Additionally, it’s important to realize that print magazines usually hit the newsstands a month before the issue. For example, a print magazine’s May issue will start being available on newsstands in mid-April. For these reasons, you must think and plan your pitches ahead of time. If you want your brand’s products or services included in your favorite magazine’s holiday gift guide, you should ideally start pitching 5 months in advance of the December issue, which comes out in November.

Online outlets, national and regional TV and radio, weeklies, and daily newspapers, on the other hands, have a much shorter timeline, hence the name short-lead media. While long-lead media need to be pitched months in advance, you can pitch your brand to short-lead media 2 to 4 weeks before a feature. As an example, if you would like to be included in a Mother’s Day gift guide, you will want to start pitching your brand in February to be included in a March or April product round-up. Some gift guides include last-minute gift ideas, in which case you could get away with pitching in late March or early April for an early May feature. Of note, some blogs and online media outlets, especially news-heavy outlets (think HuffPost or CNN.com) will run stories up to the minute, as it’s important to have the most current and up-to-date news.

To help ensure you never miss another seasonal story or very important deadline (VID), we’re including an editorial calendar we like to use for our clients.

  • July – Pitch your brand to national magazines to be included in their holiday gift guides, which, remember, come out in November

  • October – Start pitching short-lead media like local newspapers and online outlets who do holiday gift guides. Remember, if you miss the first round of gift guides, you can pitch last-minute holiday gift ideas right up until the week before Christmas

  • October – Pitch long-lead media for Valentine’s Day stories

  • November – Start pitching long-lead media outlets for your brand’s spring offerings (i.e. your beauty brand’s rose-scented sheet mask or your fashion brand’s floral print dress)

Trust us! While it may seem daunting to keep up with these media deadlines, it’s not as difficult or tedious to stay on top of if you plan ahead and get creative!