Lead Time

What is lead time?

In its broadest sense, it is the period between its start and its completion: so, any project, expedition or event could be said to have a lead time.

In journalism – an industry of notoriously tight deadlines – a writer’s lead time is the period between when they receive their information and when they’re required to submit their finished piece about that information. Journalists can often be heard to complain about a particularly short or “tight” lead time, or request a longer one, and this is where PR and marketing professionals can make their job a little easier. When a press release or other content is shared with a journalist, it’s useful to provide as long a lead time as possible to avoid stressful days and late nights completing articles. An added benefit of a long lead time is that when writers, editors and other print media professionals receive material with a long time to spare until their print deadline, they are comfortable and able to give the piece more space on their pages than they might if planning to allow for the possibility that they would need to fill the allocated space if the material didn’t end up arriving on time or at all.

What is it in public relations?

As a PR professional, it’s important to learn how they vary from industry to industry, and even between publications. Magazines will have a longer one than daily newspapers, and online media in turn may have an even shorter lead time. By keeping these schedules in mind, it’s far easier to pitch content to the right place at the right time: if information about a product for Christmas is being shared, it might need reach magazines as early as August to be accommodated in their planning schedule, while TV, radio and online media could receive it a little later. An editorial calendar will take into account a publication’s lead for example.

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