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press release distribution tips

PR Tactics: When to Release a Press Release

“When to release a press release:” this is a frequently asked question in today’s PR & online marketing world.

It might sound silly, but the answer matters a great deal now that everyone is vying for the (limited) attention of key online and paper publications.

Even the most brilliant PR writers might be at a loss as to why their response rates are so low.

Was the writing poorly done? Not necessarily. The problem might be in distribution, particularly timing.

press release distribution tips

Learn the best times to release your news story.

When to Release a Press Release: PR Distribution Tips

To develop a keen sense of when to release a press release, PR writers ought to ask themselves a couple of simple questions:

1)   When do editors check their emails?

2)   How do I make sure that my email and PR land at the top of the inbox by the time editors sit down to work?

3)   When are editors too busy to give my material a chance?

4)   How do these factors come into play when I decide when to release a press release?

If you work on answering these questions, planning when to release a press release becomes more strategic. Let’s talk about days first.

When to release a press release? The best day is Thursday.

Weekends are for rest and recreation. Saturdays and Sundays are usually earmarked for quality time with kids, or to catch up on hobbies. It is generally not advisable to distribute your PRs on weekends when editors aren’t thinking about work.

The best days to release a press release are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Mondays are fine, but reporters, editors, and practically everyone who is working is busier on the first business day of the workweek. Getting a PR published on a Monday is like driving to work at rush hour. Remember this the next time you decide when to release a press release.

Based on data provided by GetResponse, Thursdays record the most number of click-throughs compared to any other day of the week. This is a very useful pointer on when to release a press release, but remember that PRs are still news. They are meant to be timely and fresh.

If a product is launched on a Monday, and you would like to send out news on how the launching went, release the PR as soon as possible: on the same day or on Tuesday. You don’t have to wait for Thursday just because we say the stats are higher then.  “Strike when the iron is hot” is a good tip to remember when deciding when to release a press release. Editors couldn’t care less about old news.

Also factor in holidays and vacations when you figure out when to release a press release strategically. Obviously these are very slow days, and are among the worst days for PR engagement (unless you own a retail shop or a small restaurant so your business is at its peak).  For most types of businesses though, it is poor timing to send out PR:

  • On three-day weekend holidays like 4th of July, Labor Day or Memorial Day weekend. Never go for long weekends when you pick a date to release a press release.
  • During the Christmas week, particularly three days before Christmas Day
  • A couple of days before the New Year and a day after
  • Other major religious holidays in your country and abroad

When is the most ideal time for distributing PR? 8:30 to 9:00 A.M.

To figure out the ideal hour when to release a press release, here are some useful stats and facts from the Entrepreneur:

  • The fewest emails are sent from midnight to 6 am because everyone is asleep probably (including PR writers and distributors)
  • The majority of emails are sent from 6 am to noon, and click-throughs occur more between 8 A.M. to 9 A.M.
  • In the afternoon, there is a high-click through rate from 3 P.M. to 8 P.M., but opens happen mostly from 3 P.M. to 4 P.M.
  • Finally, most PRs sent through email are responded to within an hour after they’ve been sent. The chances of PRs being read drops after that first hour

As you plan when to release a press release, take note of what these numbers tell you about the habits and schedules of editors.

At 6 am, very early birds send their PRs out in the hopes of getting ahead. The problem with this tactic is that at six, editors have probably just gotten up, and are still preparing to get to work.  By the time the clock strikes eight, there’ll be more than a hundred emails listed ahead of the very early bird’s PR. It won’t be noticed.

Wondering when to release a press release for maximum exposure? Sometime between 8:30 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. is the best time to email in a PR. There is a greater chance that your target editor will be at his desk and ready for work. He will instantly see your material as it comes. If such clever timing is combined with catchy titles and well-written leads, you might actually get the response you are hoping for.

In some cases, news breaks midday. If you don’t want to wait for the next business day to spread the buzz, email in your PR early in the afternoon. Because of high-click through rates recorded at this time, 3 P.M. to 4 P.M. is an ideal hour to release a press release.

Business days usually end around 5 P.M. to 6 P.M. Editors don’t have the energy and the inclination to scout for great PRs towards the end of an exhausting day. The state of mind of your first audience (journalists and editors) is an important consideration in deciding when to release a press release.

Some online resources on when to release a press release claim that people check their emails around 8 pm just to make sure they haven’t missed anything urgent. You can give it a try if you want (competition for attention might be less tough at 8 pm), but it’s riskier as well. Most people do their own thing after business hours, and might not be in the mood for reading PRs no matter how brilliantly done.

These tips on when to release a press release should serve as guides, but they won’t work every single time.

At the end of the day, the best way to grab the attention of target editors and journalists is write to-the-point press releases that truly offer valuable information. Remember that rule of thumb, and your foundations will be correct for best results.