So much of a good PR strategy comes down to timing… but, let’s face it, there are always going to be things that are out of your hands. For instance, you can’t control if Microsoft decides to launch a new product on the same day as your client, leaving your pitches buried under more urgent, breaking news. And, you can’t control if Amazon’s cloud goes down at the same time when your client is boasting a reliable AWS failover solution. But, beyond things like this that you are powerless to change and have the potential to spoil your PR efforts, here are some things you can control:
1. When to Issue a Press Release
You want your announcement to cut through the noise and be distributed at a time when it’s likely to get noticed by the media; so, obviously, weekends are out. Mondays and Fridays are generally avoided, too, since the start of the week is too hectic with everyone else wanting to be first in that week’s news cycle and the end of the week is spent wrapping up other news items or thinking about what’s planned for the weekend. So, that leaves Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – all a good bet, and in that order of preference!
But, what time? Now, this takes a bit more consideration, especially if you’re trying to reach different geographic markets. A lot of companies will want to get a head start on the day’s news cycle and will distribute their release before 9am – but, 9am on the West coast is going to be 5pm in London, which is no good if that’s a key market for you or your client. So, in this case, it’s best to split the difference – try 8am on the East coast, which admittedly is a bit early in California, but will hit about 1-3pm for most European countries, so will span the time zones nicely.
Now, for something a little out there… how about trying 8:13am instead? Everyone typically sends out their press releases on the hour, causing a deluge of news to hit all at once – not only on wire services, but on social channels and through Google alerts, too. That can be overwhelming for anyone actually searching for something meaningful. So, by waiting till a slightly “off” time, you may have a greater chance of cutting through the noise!
2. When to Pitch a Journalist
Any PR pro you ask is likely all too familiar with responses from journalists that apologize for not seeing your pitch through the hundreds they receive each day – or, more common than that, no response at all simply because your email got lost in the shuffle. So, what is the best time to reach a journalist to ensure your email at least gets a look?
Citing a GetResponse infographic, our own Hanah Johnson actually blogged on this topic last year, noting that emails are most likely to be read within the first hour of delivery, when they have a 24 percent chance of being opened. And, the best time to send emails is when the receiver is reviewing their inbox – this tends to be in the morning or early afternoon. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that almost 40 percent of all emails are sent between 6am and noon, overflowing inboxes. So, messages sent in the early afternoon might be your best bet. Just be sure to keep the journalist’s time zone in mind because early afternoon for you may be way too early for the reporter.
3. When to Launch a New Product
Late November in the U.S.? No way! Practically everyone is checked out for the Thanksgiving holiday. July or August in Europe? Absolutely not! It’s a ghost town for extended summer vacations. Mid-late December anywhere in the world? Santa will probably put you on the naughty list…
So, it’s clear that geographic considerations for both culture and holidays are important things to take into account. But, with major events like SXSW drawing the attention of whole countries and even continents, it’s important to also ensure your announcement either capitalizes on the momentum of relevant events, or avoids them altogether to avoid competing news announcements.
Additionally, to help PR efforts align with sales and business development around a product launch, it’s smart to aim for the beginning of the quarter (January, April and October, mainly). This will help account for any product fixes, new features or other possible delays on the product dev side while also allowing you to take into account longer sales cycles that will let sales teams pre-sell a product before it goes to GA and still make their quarterly quotas.
There are widely varying views on the best and worst times to conduct these time-sensitive PR strategies; and, perhaps there is no one best time, but follow these tips and see if they help get your next press release, pitch or product launch more attention!