Today’s lesson is about timing. More specifically, it is about how one times the release of announcements so that the media and key stakeholders take notice and hear the actual message that folks want to deliver.
Many of us have heard the tales that if you don’t want someone to know something, announce it over a weekend. Or announce it over a holiday. While the 24/7 news environment brought to us by the Interwebz, Twitter, and all those citizen bloggers has changed things somewhat, the rule is still pretty much the same.
When making a media announcement, one should be mindful that the media, at least those covering education, primarily work the traditional work week. You can expect them “on duty” from 9 or so in the morning until 6 or 7 in the evenings, Monday through Friday. Afternoons are usually spent writing on deadline. Most reporters are, of course, always on call. But if you want to reach them, starting during those core times is a good first step.
So it is a major headscratcher to see last week’s announcement from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. PARCC is one of the two Common Core State Standards consortia, developing a comprehensive summative assessment to measure the K-12 standards adopted through CCSS. The PARCC tests are seen by some as better aligned with the expectations of the US Department of Education and Race to the Top.
At any rate, late last week PARCC released a statement on the Race to the Top Technical Review and how it charted the RttT Assessment grant progress. The finding was fairly simply, RttT found that PARCC was “generally on track,” the highest rating possible, according to PARCC.
The concern, though, was the timing of the release. PARCC sent the announcement out on July 12, 2013, a Friday. Email announcements were hitting reporter inboxes at 10 p.m. EDT. So it begs the question, why dump an important and positive announcement late on a Friday night as Cinderella’s coach was turning back into a pumpkin?
Sure, one can chalk it up to bad timing. To the release getting delayed for some reason unrelated to the announcement. To delays in the world wide web. All sorts of technical or manmade issues could be noted. A cynic could even say that this was dumped late on a Friday night so that few would actually pay attention to it, not wanting to raise attention for the process of the consortia and testing in general at a time when “testing” and “assessment” are dirty words.
Regardless, we need to be a little smarter with our announcements. PARCC’s announcement (along with the original RttT Assessment announcement) are important developments in our push toward adopting the Common Core and bringing meaningful summative assessments on line. It deserves more than just the “document dump” treatment. After all, any reporter wanting to cover this would now likely have to wait until Monday before someone is back in the office at Achieve or PARCC to follow up on the statement.
Nitpicking? Maybe. But with so many organizations and announcements jockeying to break through the white noise and have their issues heard by the media, one has to be media-friendly about the announcements. Late Tuesday or Wednesday mornings are good. Friday nights after prime time, not so good.
Or maybe we just don’t want folks to know that PARCC is “generally on track.”