Timely vs. Time-Sensitive

Position your expertise at the right point in the news cycle. That’s what I did when I got a call to comment on the Yahoo telecommuting controversy.

They call it breaking news for a reason: it crashes like a wave into the news cycle. A corporate executive decides to cancel a much-coveted employee benefit– telecommuting — the memo leaks and all of a sudden Marissa Mayer of Yahoo finds herself at the eye of a storm of commentary about work-life balance.

Her misstep was news precisely because it was part of a much bigger, ongoing conversation about how and when we work.  When you hope to be a source for a news story because you are an expert on the topic, it’s important to distinguish between the breaking news and the news trend.

The breaking news is an opportunity for a very short, pointed observation or judgement about the situation, using the available facts. Initially, the story about  Yahoo’s cancellation of telecommuting pivoted around the apparent hypocrisy of multi-millionaire Mayer, who had a nursery built next to her own office to accommodate her own baby, denying less affluent parents the right to be close to their own babies.

As the story evolved, it opened up opportunities for comment about the perennial work-life dilemmas facing working parents. I was asked to contribute comments to a blog geared for thrifty moms about how working parents can hold onto a telecommuting arrangement and not get Yahoo’d. Because I served up tips that readers could use any time, my comments are part of the ongoing conversation, and won’t be intrinsically linked to the breaking news.