So, you want to send a press release. You’ve already got a newsworthy story, developed an eye-catching headline and captured your message in a succinct handful of paragraphs. Now comes the hard part: making sure it actually gets read.
Even the best public relations pros have run into this problem before. The most well-written press release in the world can get lost in the noise, drowned out by everything else happening online. One minute your post is at the top of your target audience’s inbox, the next it’s been lost among memes and the latest trending hashtag.
We’re about to let you in on a little secret: To get the right eyes on your story, it all boils down to your timing.
Why Timing Matters
We’ve all heard that the early bird gets the worm. However, when it comes to your press release getting copy, as soon as possible isn’t always the best strategy.
Today’s news cycle is always moving — a fact that comes with some major pros and cons. Thanks to a rise in accessibility and social media, the top story can change with only a moment’s notice. That’s great for a journalist looking to share the latest news, but not so great for PR professionals working hard to get their stories noticed.
In addition to the nature of today’s non-stop news cycle, modern PR teams are at a far bigger disadvantage than their predecessors. In 2018, PR Daily reported that journalists are outnumbered by PR professionals by 6 to 1, making it that much harder to get your release picked up by major news outlets. When you add up fewer journalists and more stories than ever to report, the chance of your email even being opened becomes pretty slim.
So, what can we do to change that formula to put the odds in our favor? You’ve already probably guessed it. You need to know when the timing is right and — maybe more importantly — when it’s anything but.
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The Best Time to Send a Press Release (And How To Do It)
An effective press release has to take into account the time of day it’s released. Otherwise, you might as well keep it in the drafts.
Research by Prowly, a PR technology company, uncovered 2 key findings when it comes to the right time to share your release. First, emails sent between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM local time have the best chance of being viewed with an open rate of 31.54%. Outside of that window, engagement drops to as low as 3.44% — ouch. Second, your golden opportunity is a Thursday morning.
Think about it: Toward the end of the week, you’ve likely wrapped up your most important tasks. Now, you finally have some time to sit down and sort your unopened emails before your lunch break. After that, the brain is strictly on weekend mode. If you do miss a Thursday deadline, you’re better off sitting the weekend out and sharing on Monday morning, as open rates dip to 2% on Saturday before returning to 19% at the start of the week.
Consider your own workflow: Are you likely to open anything sent on a Friday afternoon? What about after lunch, as you’re working to wrap up any priority projects with an end-of-day deadline? Or when you first get in and are barely through your first cup of coffee?
Long story short, no. Your audience is no different. So, when able, it’s a good idea to send your press releases later in the morning on Thursdays. Otherwise, you can wave your open rate goodbye.
Like any good rule, there are few exceptions to these guidelines. Sometimes an immediate release is necessary, especially if you’re addressing a controversy or looking to get ahead of an incoming story. Additionally, if a time-sensitive story falls near or on a major holiday, aim to get it out at least 2 days before.
You know your audience and your message better than anyone, but we recommend taking these guidelines as best practices for standard releases.
Other PR Tactics To Keep In Mind
While timing is a crucial consideration, there are several other tactics you can use to ensure your news release hits the ground running:
Schedule in Advance
When it comes to getting your scheduling right, we recommend considering the goal of your press release. For example, if you’re hosting an event, waiting until the day of isn’t likely to help you gather the crowd you’re looking for. Instead, scheduling your release ahead of time is likely to get you the press coverage you need to attract an audience. Plus, you can follow up with post-event coverage to maximize your impact and boost engagement.
Another strategy you may want to consider is sending out your release early under an embargo. The purpose of a PR embargo is to share confidential information that’s meant to stay under wraps until the specified date. This allows journalists to prepare a more in-depth article ahead of release.
Stay Organized With a Calendar
No matter the size of your organization, your PR team is likely working with a lot of moving parts.
A media coverage calendar maps out the key components of your release, all the way through the initial pitch to the media outlets it posts on. Taking the time to chart out your schedule allows your team to make more informed decisions around any other marketing events and gives you a clearer insight into how your schedule aligns with other business units.
Consider a Press Release Distribution Service
If you’re looking for a guarantee that your release attracts attention, you may want to consider working with a press release distribution service. These groups work in two ways. Some will share your story out to a pre-existing list of media contacts and journalists, while others post to industry-relevant sites in an effort to connect you with industry influencers.
Keep in mind that these aren’t the only ways to get your press release seen, but they will help you stand out in the crowd. Also, if you remember one thing from this, just promise you’ll never send a press release out at 2:00 AM on a Saturday.