Is there an optimal timing for sending out press releases to media?
While there isn’t a magic number, the popular advice is to avoid weekends, Mondays, and Fridays. Others say a slow news day — when nothing much is happening and journalists are desperate for stories — is a good day to send your release out and get an editor’s attention.
Everybody agrees the worst time to send a press release is when the whole world is preoccupied with a big event or breaking news story. Don’t even think about competing with a tsunami, terrorist attack, or school shooting.
And even with the best planning, sometimes your timing doesn’t work out. We had a client that launched a product right when a hurricane hit, and we could not reach many reporters because their power got knocked out for days. If something like this happens to you, just wait until things settle down.
What PR People Say and Do
Data from MarketWire, an online press release distribution service, shows that PR practitioners follow this advice. The busiest day for MarketWire is Tuesday, as that is when they receive the highest number of press releases. The second busiest day is Monday.
On the other hand, Fridays are the least busy week day, and almost nothing happens on weekends. Almost everyone sends their press releases between 8-9 am ET.
We tend to follow this if our client is on the east coast, and if they are on the west coast, we send it out at 8-9 PT.
An informal poll of PR professionals affirms this practice as well. When asked when was the best time to send a press release, 53% said Tuesday was the best day, and 63% said morning was the best time.
What This Means for You
Now, if everyone is sending their press releases on Tuesday mornings, doesn’t that make it harder to get journalists’ attention if we do what everyone else is doing?
Yes, it does.
What you can do is test sending releases at off times (but still not on weekends). For example, how about Wednesday or Thursday morning? Or even after-hours on Monday?
Because editors and journalists are constantly connected, the timing of your press release is becoming less important than it used to be. Media can access their emails and social networking accounts 24/7 — if they want to.
The Not-so-Simple Answer
It’s also important to know the time considerations of the specific types of media you’re targeting. For example, media with different geographic coverages will have different timing needs. Local media will be more approachable at the last minute, compared to global media.
Another thing to consider is whether you’re targeting news, features, or columns. News departments are always looking for breaking news. You have to be current. Features and columns are planned out more in advance. Also, while news-oriented media plan content day to day, consumer magazines have editorial calendars filled six months in advance. And electronic media can handle last-minute coverage, but printed media cannot.
Think of all these factors when deciding to reach out with news, whether it’s simply a media pitch or a full press release. You want to give media plenty of time to become aware of your story, decide if they want to cover it, and do the necessary legwork to produce their content.
Ultimately there is no formula for timing your press release. It’s more important that you have a story worth telling, your press release meets editorial guidelines, and you have made meaningful connections with relevant media contacts. In other words, know what your audience and what media want, and you’ll increase your chances of getting media coverage.
Aside from media coverage, another key benefit of issuing press releases, particularly over a wire service is for the hundreds of backlinks you would get from issuing an SEO press release.
And here’s one final tip: Extend the life of your press release by using it on all the content platforms you own, such as your blog and website. Promote it on social networks. Create a video to go with the release. Gone are the days of the one-off press release. Give it more legs and it will go far.
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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