Time zone confusion
On Friday evening at 5:32 p.m., I received an email message from a radio host in California informing me that a requested book still had not arrived and that she needed the book by the weekend preferably, Monday at the latest. I don’t think I need to tell you how that one ended.
Fortunately, most people on the West Coast are attuned to the schedules of their cross-country counterparts (although hopefully this will serve as a reminder too). What can get really tricky for a book publicist is when we’re dealing with a host in one time zone vs. our own time zone vs. an author’s time zone. Throw in an overseas author (or host / reporter) and we’re screwed. Which is where a site like World Time Server comes in handy. Real handy.
You can not only look up the current time in any time zone in the world, but you can also input the time in one time zone and “translate” the time to another using the Time Zone Converter. (You can add a date as well to account for daylight savings.) For example, if a radio host in Kona wants to conduct an interview at noon in Hawaii, you can tell your author in Zurich, that would be 11 p.m. for him / her. (If you were me, you might also start playing around with the converter to see what time an interview in Coeur d’Alene, ID would be for an author based in, say, Lake Placid, NY, although I realize you probably have much better things to do with your time.)
One technique I have for trying to eliminate time zone confusion when I’m scheduling interviews for authors is to list both the host’s / reporter’s as well as the author’s time zone (if they are in different parts of the country). So rather than just telling an author in San Francisco that an interview with a New York host is at noon PT, I’ll write out “noon PT / 3 p.m. ET.” (Or, as has happened in the past, “6 p.m. PT / 3 p. m. ET.” When I’m looking at that written out, I — or the author or an assistant or someone — am likely to catch it; if all I’ve written on the schedule is “6 p.m. PT,” it’s unlikely anyone will realize anything is amiss until an irate host calls about a missed interview.)
When it comes to time zones, Google Calendar, one of my new favorite applications, just isn’t up to snuff. If you use the time function, it will change depending on the users time zone. If I, on the East Coast, enter an author event at 7 p.m. ET, an author in Chicago will see it at 6 p.m. CT. I’ve ended up not using the time function, i.e., marking an event / interview as “All Day” and then I add the time to the event name, e.g., “7 p.m. ET — Main Street Books.” (Dear Google — I wish there were way to turn off the time zone function in the Calendar …)
Anyone else have any tricks to help you keep your time zones straight?