So, your press release is drafted and ready to send, but when is the best time to launch your news to the media?

When you’re busy, it can be tempting to send a press release right away and get it off the to-do list. But while distributing PR at 4pm on a Friday afternoon may mean you don’t have to think about it the following week, in many cases this fails to make the most of the press release you have worked so hard on.

Sending your press release at the right time for your intended audience is essential for maximising opportunities for press coverage.  Although there is no magic formula to identify the perfect time for PR distribution, by considering the below you can increase your chances of success.

The best day of the week to send a press release

Most would agree that their email Inbox is a nightmare on a Monday. Journalists are no different, so understandably will be less receptive to your press release right at the start of the week.  Most research suggests that Tuesday tends to be a popular day to send a press release, and often means you can expect to see online press coverage by the end of the week.

That said, lots of other people will likely be sending their releases on the same day as you.  This makes it crucial that your release has an engaging subject line, a great title and is packed with relevant, interesting content so that it stands out from the crowd.

Wednesday or Thursday are also generally good days to send a press release. In fact, some sources suggest that emails sent on a Thursday have the best open rate.  However, as you could be waiting a couple of days for your story to be published, it may end up going live on a weekend. If you’re targeting consumers this is less of a problem, but with trade media, your key audience may have gone home for the weekend.

It is widely regarded that Friday is the worst day to send a press release so unless you have a really good reason it is best to distribute stories earlier in the week.

Another very important consideration is the deadlines for the specific press you are communicating with.  For example, if you are keen to be in the next issue of a trade magazine you’ll need to make sure your release is received well before they go to press. Otherwise, no matter how good your story, it may not make the cut.

The best time to distribute PR

It is standard practice to send press releases early in the morning, usually between 8.30am and 10am local time.  Journalists tend to expect to receive press releases at this time, so may plan their day around this, meaning if you send a press release in the afternoon, you could miss your chance.  However, if you absolutely must send something in the afternoon, it is best to do so between 2pm and 3pm.

An important point here is that we are talking about the local time of the journalist.  It is vital that releases are sent at a time that works for the journalist, rather than the time that works for you.  Molokini distributes press releases internationally, so we usually send the same story several times across a 24-hour period to journalists in different time zones often in the local language, bearing in mind that some will start their working day before the UK and some later.  When working across time zones, it is helpful to use email or PR distribution software that enables you to schedule releases to go out automatically to the right time zone. Otherwise, if a release hits a journalist’s inbox in the middle of the night, it is likely to be missed.

How does your press release fit with the bigger picture?

Another important consideration is how your story relates to the bigger picture. When did you last send a press release to this journalist? Yesterday? Last week? If so, then the same journalist may not want to hear from you again. Bombarding editors with press releases leads to disengagement and should be avoided. If you have a lot to say, why not consider arranging an interview or holding a launch event instead?

Also, to time your release right, you need to think about what is happening in your industry and what your competitors are doing. For instance, many businesses seek PR support around trade shows and conferences and want to promote their involvement.  In this case, sending the press release at the start of, or during, the event, may be too late and mean you’re competing with your competitors who are also involved in the show.  To publicise the messages around your involvement in the event, a press release announcing this should be sent at the very least one month beforehand.

Likewise, on the surface it might seem a good idea to send your latest news story on the first day of the show to the journalists that you know will be there – the story will be fresh in their head and they will want to come and talk to you, right? Wrong.  Journalists are extremely busy when they are out of the office at events so are unlikely to be giving their inbox its usual level of attention. It is better to contact a journalist with a press release when they’re sat at their desk, not wandering around an exhibition hall!

Other considerations apply to seasonal stories.  If you have a summer specific press release, then online publications, daily press and weekly titles won’t be interested in receiving this in January. However, if you’re targeting long lead consumer press, they may need this information 3-6 months before the summer starts – if you send it in June, you’ll miss your chance.

Is it urgent?

Another key thing to consider is urgency, and as a rule, urgency takes priority.  If your story is intended to tie into something current on the news agenda, the quicker you can share your press release the better – sometimes that may not be on the ideal day of the week. Or, perhaps you’ve got breaking news or an important statement to issue.  In these cases, no matter what the time of the day, it is usually more valuable to get your story out without delay.

To establish whether a PR story is urgent, think from the perspective of the journalist – will they think it’s red hot? A press release that is going out at the last minute so that you can meet internal deadlines may seem pressing to you, but that doesn’t make it an urgent news story.  In fact, when a press release is delayed in your plan, it may be better to postpone it or reconsider distributing the story altogether.

As always, PR is about a balance between what a business wants to say and what a journalist, and the end audience, wants to hear.  However, by bearing in mind all of these considerations you can aim to communicate your messages at the right time for greater PR success.

Hannah Patterson is the PR Manager for Molokini Marketing, a full-service marketing agency that specialises in industrial PR and trade media relations for the logistics and materials handling sectors.