When to Send a Press Release: An Expert Cheat Sheet

When to Send a Press Release: An Expert Cheat Sheet

by | Apr 29, 2020 | Press Releases

Your mouse is hovering over “send”.

Are you ready to make the final leap?

The path from PR to published is crisscrossed by hurdles to overcome: crafting a story tailored to the publication, developing lasting relationships with journalists, supporting your news through social media, and more.

Before you click “send”, check your watch. The time and day you send your PR is critical to its success.

When to release a press release

When's the best time to release a press release? Before you click 'send', check your watch. ⌚ The time and day you send your PR is critical to its success. @JuliaEMcCoy breaks it down here: Click To Tweet

What’s the Best Day to Send a Press Release in 2020?

In a 2015 study of 100,000 press releases, Ragan suggests Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to distribute a press release.

However, a 2020 analysis by Prowly found that PRs sent on Wednesdays were not opened as often, with an open rate of only 15%.

According to Prowly, Thursday is the best day to send a press release, when email open rates climb up to nearly 27%. The next best day is Tuesday, which averages a 19% open rate.

The best days to send a press release

What average open rate should you be shooting for? Freshmail recommends an open rate benchmark of 18-30%. This number fluctuates by industry, as some niches receive more mail than others.

However, if your open rate is significantly lower, it’s time to brush up on how to pitch a press release via email, check your email etiquette, and most of all, reevaluate your timing.

Let’s look at press release standards of when NOT to send a press release.

Don’t Send a Press Release On Monday or Friday

Every morning, journalists have an average of 300 emails waiting for them. On Mondays, that number toes the line toward 1000. Short of wizardry, there’s simply no way for them to read everything. By issuing your press release on Monday, you risk it going unread.

How about Friday, when most of the week’s work is complete? Prowly’s study notes one of the worst days to send a press release is Friday, especially Friday evenings. Just like you, at the end of the day on Fridays, most journalists are wrapping up and getting ready for the weekend.

Don’t Send a Press Release on the Weekend

Journalists don’t open their work email on the weekend. If they do, it’s likely not to read your PR. At an open rate of barely 2%, it’s not worth it to send a press release on the weekend.

What’s the Best Time to Send a Press Release?

Roughly 33% of all PR emails are opened between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. However, it’s not as simple as sending your email in that time frame.

Many companies – especially those that use distribution services – schedule their PRs ahead of time. Whether for simplicity or due to technological limitations, the bulk of scheduled emails arrive on the hour or half-hour. This means your target journalist might be dealing with hundreds of new emails exactly at 10:00 AM or 10:30 AM.

By choosing a slightly different time, such as 10:23 AM, you’ll sidestep the competition and increase the chance that your PR is read.

Don’t Send Press Releases in the Early Morning

Even on Thursdays, open rates plummet between 6:00 and 10:00 AM. According to Cision, a leading press release distribution service, 9:00 AM is the most popular time to send press releases. Unfortunately, that popularity means much more competition for your PR.

The most popular time to send press releases: 9 am

In this case, the early bird does not catch the worm. Leave the wee hours for the rookies.

Don’t Send Press Releases At Night

The same logic applies to press releases sent at the end of the day, or late at night. If you’re heading home from work or sleeping, your journalist is likely doing the same. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, it’s best to avoid these low-open rate times.

Example exceptions include financial releases sent after the market closes to comply with regulation, and breaking news.

Be Aware of Your Target Journalist’s Time Zone

With a growing remote workforce, being aware of varying time zones is more important than ever.

Consider this example timing fail: it’s 11:23 AM CDT on a Thursday, so it should be an ideal time to send a press release. You proofread, add a press kit with multimedia, and hit send.

As the release jets off into the ether, you realize you’ve forgotten some key details. Your contact is located in Egypt, where it’s already past the end of the workday. What’s more, the local workweek starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Unfortunately, your PR has a very low chance of being read.

time zone converter

This fumble could have been avoided by doing a quick search for the time difference, holidays, and local customs using tools like Time Zone Converter or Time and Date. If you’re working across time zones and cultures, consider including this game-changing information in your media list.

For best results, DON'T send a press release out in the early morning or at night. Instead, keep tabs on your target journalist's time zone and send during the day. ☀ Click To Tweet

How Far in Advance Should You Send a Press Release?

The short answer is: it depends. First, consider the nature of your news and current events in your industry. For example, political press releases will gain the most traction before or after an election. Why? An election is major news, which will create tough competition for your PR.

Next, determine whether it would be more newsworthy now, or at a later date. Also, consider whether your news needs to remain confidential before a certain date.

If journalists must wait before publishing your news, use an embargo.

Press release embargo

Here are a few examples of when to use an embargo:

  • Funding announcements
  • Mergers
  • Acquisitions
  • Partnership announcements
  • New Leadership

Not sure if you should release your news in advance? Let’s explore how far in advance to send a press release in specific situations.

  • Press Releases for Breaking News: To ensure your brand sets the narrative, follow up on the day of the event, or as soon as possible. Instead of an embargo, use “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”.

Press release - for immediate release example

  • Press Releases in Response to Ongoing News – A prime example: responses to the ongoing COVID19 crisis. If your PR contains essential information for public health, release it immediately. If it’s relevant but not immediately essential, follow the general guidelines for when to send a press release.
  • Press Releases for Events: Grand openings, conference spotlights, and industry trade show press releases should go out at least 3 weeks in advance.
  • Press Releases for Product Launches: For highly timely news, send these PRs at least 1-2 weeks in advance.

Press release embargo for product launch

When to Send a Press Release During the Holidays: The Importance of Timely Press Releases

Whether it’s a three-day weekend or Christmas Eve, avoid sending PRs the day before holidays. These days fall under the same rule as Fridays. Journalists will have tons of emails coming in that day and will be less likely to open your PR.

Instead, send PRs at least 2 days before a holiday. In addition, reference your media list for local holiday customs. For example, Jewish holidays start at sunset, so PRs should be sent 3 days before the calendar holiday. If in doubt, respectfully ask your journalist if they are celebrating any holidays this month.

Send press releases at least 2 days before holidays

For holiday-related news, send it at least 3 weeks in advance to give your journalist adequate time to get it out for the holiday.

Should anything be sent on holidays?

Here’s the exception: breaking news. Be aware even this PR risks getting buried by the time your journalist returns to their inbox, so be sure to follow up with a direct message or phone call.

When should you send out press releases around holidays? Short answer: It depends. First: ☝ Consider the nature of your news or event. Next: ✌ determine whether its newsworthy right now or later. Learn more: Click To Tweet

Press Release Timeline: What to Do Before and After Release

Want your press release to find maximum traction? Follow this press release timeline.

Before You Hit Send

Proofreading is essential. Typos and broken links can quickly damage your brand’s credibility.

If your contact details are incomplete or missing, follow up becomes impossible. Add an impersonal press release format or flabby press release structure, and your publication chances will take a serious nosedive. To avoid this, follow a press release template.

After Publication

Using a syndication service? Hop on your dashboard and zero in on the major publications where the service distributed your press release.

If you’re new to the game, check out our blow by blow of how to distribute a press release on a budget.

For peak engagement, follow this checklist:

  1. Take hyperlinks from major news outlets where your PR was published.
  2. Choose a different news source for each of your social media arms.
  3. Write a tailored description for each link.
  4. Post and repeat.

According to Neil Patel, the goal of following up with social media is not about boosting SEO, or even driving traffic back to the press release section of your website. Instead, it’s all about brand awareness, growing credibility, and community engagement.

Looking for peak engagement? Consult our journalist team to learn the most opportune time to issue your news.

When to Release Your Press Release

The reality is: context is everything. What’s killer timing one month may change during the holidays. What works in your country may need tweaking internationally. What makes a splash for product launches may require a new tactic for breaking news.

How can you boost your press release’s success, no matter the situation? Keep track of the time and date you send each press release, as well as which media outlets published it. Then, with each new PR, adjust one variable in that dataset to measure when is the best time for your particular type of news.

With these best practices in mind, your PRs will be making headlines in no time.

Ready to hit the headlines? Head over to our Content Shop.

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