Timing is everything. You can’t sign up for an awards show after the ceremony and expect to have a chance, right? Neither can you put your name in the hat so far in advance that it’s buried by those who come later. You need to strike while the iron is hot and find the best time.
This concept holds true with pretty much everything in life, and press releases are no different.
Think about the purpose of a press release. Your press release is aimed at journalists, reporters, editors, and other industry specialists who are likely to cover your announcement on their blogs, news sites, and journals.
Timing plays a huge role in getting this coverage.
Sending your press release out too early means most of these journalists are going to forget about it by the time they would need to cover it. Unless you have an embargo preventing early publication, or you have a significant enough reputation that anything you do is worth covering regardless of the timing, being too early means being forgotten.
Now consider the other side of the coin. You send out your press release on the day your announced feature goes live. What are journalists likely to do? Chances are, their content schedules are already full for the day. At best, you get coverage tomorrow, missing the prime window of opportunity. At worst, your email gets buried in an already-busy inbox and you’re overlooked entirely.
It’s only a rare few companies that can launch a press release and coverage campaign with an attached “available now” message. You see it in video game – a trailer drops with a release date of today – but that’s a rarity in other industries.
Timing is everything. That begs the question, what’s the right time?
The Best Time of Day to Send a Press Release
Let’s start with the smallest increment of time, the time of day. Should you send your press release in the evening? The morning? The lunch break?
There are a few considerations here, so let’s break it down.
1. Send your press release in the morning.
First of all, you want to send your press release in the morning. Usually, this amounts to somewhere between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.; after the morning coffee and clock-in, before the lunch break.
Why this time window? It’s the time when journalists are looking at all of their tips and potential stories, and deciding what they want to cover for the day. You want your press release to show up somewhere near the top of their inbox, so it’s one of the first potential stories they see, and they’re more likely to want to cover it in their daily content plan.
Don’t send it too early! The earlier you send it, the deeper down the inbox it will be as everyone else sends in their press releases after you.
Don’t send it too late, either. The later you send it, the more important it had better be, because the content schedule is likely already set and the journalist has started actually writing the stories. They no longer have the time or inclination to shuffle their schedule for anything other than exceptional news.
2. Don’t forget to adjust for the journalist’s local time.
This is critical. This 8-10 a.m. timeframe is not your time, it’s the time of the journalist you’re sending your press release to. That means you have to know where the journalist is and what times they’re most likely to be working. If you send your press release at 8 a.m. EDT but your journalist is in California, it’s going to be way deep down in their inbox. On the other hand, if you send it at 8 a.m. PDT and your journalist is in NYC, it’s not showing up for them until it’s almost lunch time.
This gets even harder for multinational and global companies, or instances where you’re trying to get coverage around the world. Keeping a resource on hand to watch the time around the world can be very useful.
3. Advanced technique: don’t send at a rounded time.
Many companies use outreach software to send out press releases on a schedule. That way, you can have your press release all configured and ready to go at 5 p.m. the night before, but have it scheduled to send at the perfect time the next day.
There’s a quirk of these kinds of apps, though; many of them schedule their sends on a rounded number of minutes through the hour. It’s usually either on the hour, on the half hour, or every 15 minutes, though sometimes you can find every 10 or every 5 minutes as well. It’s relatively rare to find software that lets you schedule down to the minute, simply because it’s more complicated for a system to send those emails that precisely.
That means journalists reliably expect an influx of press releases on the hour, on the half hour, and on the quarter hour. So, if your press release shows up outside of those clusters, it’s more likely to stand alone and get more visibility.
The Best Day of the Week to Send a Press Release
There’s very little consensus about what the best day of the week is for sending out press releases. Some might argue Friday gives publications all weekend to prepare stories to launch at the start of the week. Others say Friday is already too late – and who hasn’t checked out by Friday anyway? – and to send it earlier. One thing we can all agree on is that sending on the weekend is a fool’s errand.
Generally, the usual recommendation is Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
Why is this? Well, the earlier in the week you send out your press release, the more of the week there is left to have your story covered.
Monday is often the best day, simply because it’s the start of the new week. Journalists might not have their weekly publication calendar full up yet, so they have more space to cover more stories, resulting in a greater proportion of press releases sent out that day getting stories.
Of course, this isn’t universal. Many people believe Monday is the best, so Monday ends up crowded. Maybe Tuesday is a better option for your news. Opinions on this topic vary, which is why the whole Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday block is the go-to.
Consider, as well, that there’s often lead time. The journalist has to decide on a story, and possibly even pitch it to an editor. It has to be approved, and researched, and written, and edited. Images need to be found and attached. It needs to be scheduled and published. All of that takes time, and it’s unlikely to happen in just a couple of hours. A press release received on Monday might not result in a story until Wednesday or Thursday.
The exceptions to the rule: embargos and high-profile coverage.
The standard rules of timing apply in general, but there are specific cases that can circumvent those standard rules.
One such example is in cases where you have an embargo on your press coverage, and you want it to be prepared in advance. For example, if you want your story released on Monday, you can’t very well send the press release out on Monday, can you?
Well, not quite. Often, the best schedule is to send it out on the previous Monday; it gives the journalist a whole week to plan and schedule the story.
The other reason why you might be able to “skip the line” is if you’re a high-profile company and have a major announcement. But, these are the kinds of things that don’t obey the rules anyway. Apple can send out a press release whenever they please and get immediate coverage, just because they’re Apple.
Similarly, crisis situations can skip the line. If your company suffers a data breach, a press release about it is important enough it doesn’t obey the usual timing rules.
The Best Time of Month to Send a Press Release
For the most part, week to week, factors are the same. It doesn’t matter all that much if you send your press release on Tuesday the 2nd or Tuesday the 27th.
There are a couple of reasons why you might want to pick a specific time in the month, though, and they largely revolve around other timing factors.
- If your announcement is about something that will launch on the 1st of the month, sending your press release near the end of the previous month might be ideal.
- If you want to get coverage in a print journal that gets published on the first week of the month, you need to make sure your coverage is in by their deadline for story submissions, usually halfway through the previous month.
- If there are particular monthly happenings, like holidays or events taking place, you may want to schedule around them.
Generally, though, the time of the month isn’t nearly as important as the time of the week or the time of the day, which is why many studies don’t even consider it.
The Best Time of Year to Send a Press Release
The time of year is only important because of cultural happenings. They may or may not be important, depending on the nature of your press release. Of course, if you have months of lead time, you can pick the ideal timing for your announcement with quite a high degree of precision.
- End of year is awash with holiday coverage from October on, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Years, and all of the other holidays celebrated around the world. It can be very packed.
- Seasonal changes, particularly dates like memorial day and labor day, can be crammed with seasonal announcements and might not be the ideal time for yours.
- Industry conferences, whether or not you attend them, impact the press of content on journalists. Best to avoid them if you can.
- Quarterly financial statements and other reports from businesses often get a lot of coverage, so those deadlines can be packed as well.
- Sending on a holiday, of course, is like delivering mail to a vacant address; your journalists are home with their families and won’t see your release for a day or more.
Generally, it’s best to pick a time that has as little going on as possible, simply to minimize how much competition your press release will have.
How Far in Advance to Send a Press Release
In general, the more lead time you can give to a story, the better a journalist can work it into their content schedule and give it the coverage it deserves. Two to three weeks is usually the sweet spot; it’s enough time that the future content calendar should be clear, but not so much time that it feels like “old news” and isn’t exciting.
To an extent, this also depends on how broad your coverage will be. The more reporters you send your press release out to, the more lead time you want to get all those mails delivered and all the communications in order. Embargos and timed drops need to be synced, as well. Remember, too, that a tighter timeline can stimulate FOMO; no journalist wants to miss the opportunity to be first to the party.
There’s some variation here, of course. Print magazines may need much more lead time, especially if they’re quarterly publications. Conversely, if you’re trying to capitalize on a trending topic, you may not have the opportunity for any lead time; you need your release out now, before the trend stops trending.
The best way to capitalize on timing with an excellent press release is to have a professional PR service handle the whole process for you. That’s where we come in. Our press release distribution service takes careful consideration of timing to reach the greatest number of interested journalists at the best possible time. Why not give it a try?