As you read here at 5280.com last week, Democratic State Rep. Angie Paccione has finally decided to run for congress against Republican incumbent Marilyn Musgrave. You may not have read the news over the weekend, however, because Paccione’s announcement was so ill-timed that she cost herself some more free press than she received. The blog Stygius has the rundown of some of the press Paccione did get, but her announcement is a lesson in what a difference a day makes in politics.
There’s a standard rule in politics that if you have bad news to announce, you do it on a Friday afternoon. It wasn’t a coincidence, for example, that the announcement that FEMA director Mike Brown was being “recalled” (this was before he formally resigned) was made on a Friday afternoon. The rationale is that fewer people watch the news on a Friday night, and fewer people read the newspaper on a Saturday because they are out running errands and playing on the weekend. If you have bad news, you announce it on a Friday afternoon because fewer people are going to see it.
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This is particularly true in Colorado since the joint operating agreement (JOA) between the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News a few years back. The Denver Post now no longer publishes on Saturday, and most reporters for the Post don’t even come to work on Fridays for that reason. While it’s true that many subscribers to the Post will get the News on Saturday instead, there is still only one major newspaper carrying a story on Saturday. So when Paccione announced on Friday afternoon that she was running for congress, she essentially lost the opportunity to get a big story in both the News and the Post. It’s a simple matter of timing, but it makes a big difference. When the Post finally did get around to running the story, it was a small article because it was old news.
Paccione still got press in the northern Colorado newspapers, but you can’t throw away an opportunity to get coverage in both the Post and the News , if nothing else because those are articles you can photocopy and reprint for mailings and other handouts. Free press in a campaign is hard to come by, and positive free press is even tougher. If Paccione had just announced her intentions one day earlier, or waited until today, it would have made a world of difference.