In some countries it is known as ‘Cucumber Time’, but in Britain it’s the silly season. The term was coined in an edition of the Saturday Review published in 1861 and the phrase has just stuck. We’re now at the tail end of the summer, the point when radio and TV programmes allow themselves to be more frivolous, but are you making the most of it?
This year there has been a distinct lack of silliness with a packed news agenda including Trump, BREXIT and even the weather; but it’s wrong to think now the bank holiday is over that opportunities to secure coverage have gone too.
Typically, there is an appetite for PR generated silly-season stories until the end of the first week of September and this continuing seasonal lull creates a fantastic opportunity for coverage on radio and TV. Many PR professionals say they don’t time their campaigns to hit during the silly season as it can be difficult to get sign off and trickier to secure coverage during this period, with clients and regular journalists on holiday. We say they’re wrong.
The bar is lower, news rooms are under resourced, there are more freelancers and there is generally less happening in late summer, until Parliament returns and life gets back to normal.
We all love a silly season story and here are some of our favourites.
- A picture of a topless Vladimir Putin enjoying his summer holiday is a stalwart; sometimes he’s on a horse but variations on the theme include driving a submarine and plucking fish from a river. Today is no exception. The Russian president has been enjoying some down time as he goes hiking in Siberia.
The Kremlin released pictures of the leader who is holidaying with two other members of his top team.
- The Lochness monster is always a banker for the silly season. This year 12-year-old Charlotte Robinson, from Leeds, claimed Nessie popped up about 50 feet away – and on the first day of her stay.
Needless to say, she captured it on her iPhone.
- A personal favourite of mine from last year, helping to fill the news lull, was an Alan Partridge style item titled ‘Why do northern dogs tails wag less?’ A classic PR filler, the report was based on research from Edinburgh University which reported dogs in the north lose their wag because of the colder temperatures.
But it isn’t just the summer months that afford a fantastic opportunity to place PR generated stories.
Christmas, particularly the days between Christmas and New Year, is always quiet, yet the listening and viewing figures remain high. The first week of January works well too; that said broadcasters are saturated with New Year resolution and diet stories, so avoid trying to pitch those if possible.
Easter too can often provide an opportunity to secure coverage more easily than at competitive non-holiday times.
And business programmes in particular, struggle to find high calibre guests the day after a Bank Holiday, so this is generally a beneficial time to pitch guests and take advantage of a quieter news agenda.
The silly season now extends way beyond the summer months and our advice is to be canny and take full advantage of it.
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