Most public relations professionals will tell you that ‘silly season’ is the period in late July and August, where Parliament is in Recess for the summer, schools are on their summer break, and a third of the country is on holiday.
This period of relative calm was always traditionally fertile ground for PRs; competing with a less demanding schedule of news coming out of Parliament, and with lots of competitors on holiday, PRs often directed their clients to push out news that might otherwise not get picked up around this time, in order to capitalise on the less busy news agenda.
But is this even a reality anymore?
In recent years, the adage seems to have fallen short; News is coming thick and fast, whether Parliament was sitting or not. The Pandemic was something that nobody could avoid with a convenient August holiday, meaning that many of the people assumed to be on holiday over the summer period remained stubbornly in place. A news story of this gravitas also did not abide by the usual rules and persisted across the yearly news cycle.
This year remains no different. The ever-spiralling cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine, public sector strikes, droughts, and the ongoing and ever-worsening climate crisis are all (quite rightly) huge news stories which will also refuse to abide by the usual ebbs and flows of news.
Our own political situation has also meant that Summer has been dominated domestically by the collapse of Boris Johnson’s administration and the subsequent scramble for a Tory leader to replace him. Despite Parliament not sitting, political news has certainly not taken a backseat this August.
So, what does this mean for the fabled ‘Silly Season’? In the opinion of this PR, it does not hold the sway it once did, and is unlikely to hold it again; The political situation both at home, and abroad, is simply too febrile and too unpredictable for us to be able to simply use holidays and Parliamentary recesses as a way to forward plan for corporate news. While we can still look at yearly calendars for our planning, a blanket claim on Summer as a quieter news period no longer stands up to scrutiny.
So, what does this mean for the release you were hoping to sneak out in August? It means that you need to fall back on the PR’s first line of defence to generate coverage for it…Creativity!
Good luck out there!