Often the investor relations job revolves around corporate news, and sometimes timelines get compressed so we must get it out quickly. This kind of breaking news puts the IR professional on deadline – a short deadline. This morning, for example, a client got in touch just after 7:00 and asked me to write a news release on a transaction – and make it fast so the execs negotiating the deal could show a draft to the other company today.
Mentally this took me back to my time in the daily newspaper business. In the news biz, deadlines must be part of your DNA. Not faraway deadlines like, “We have to do an annual report on 2011 and drop it in the mail by March 23 of next year.”
Real deadlines get your heart beating and adrenaline flowing. These deadlines are measured in minutes rather than days or weeks. The feeling returns:
Something blows up, a plane crashes, the mayor resigns unexpectedly. Suddenly you’re hunkered over a keyboard, the City Editor looking over your shoulder. “Give it to me in takes,” he says. Takes are scraps of two or three paragraphs that an editor can mark up and send to be typeset.
To meet a very short deadline, you have to move copy fast. “We’ll hold the presses for this,” the City Editor’s boss says … a costly move, only for an extraordinary news event. We have to get this into the papers to go on the trucks and be thrown on people’s driveways (or nowadays, we rush to beat the competition in posting the story to the Web).
So you think fast and write fast. Tick, tick, tick. You must get that news out, but of course even more importantly you must get it right.
Since I’ve calmed down now from my morning deadline, I’ll share a few thoughts about deadlines and how we as IR professionals can cope with them:
- Plan your approach. When you get a short-notice assignment, spend the first few moments jotting an outline of key messages, a short list of resources you need, a rough work plan to guide your use of time.
- Clear your mind. Take a few breaths or get a cup of coffee before diving in.
- Assess your progress. Once you’ve made some headway, make a printout and read it over to see what works – and what’s still missing.
- When it’s done, check it. If you’re working fast, the need is greater than ever to proofread what you write – better yet, get a reality check from colleagues.
- Practice stress management. Really, this is about lifestyle. Many IR people would benefit from taking time off, staying in better shape, eating better – all of those healthy tips that can best be implemented when you’re not on deadline.
What do you think? Any secrets or tips for coping with deadline pressures in IR?