Press release distribution timing sounds simple but it is not. It is actually quite complex and depends on a number of factors.
- Your specific industry
- The deadlines of the top publications in your industry
- The timing of pre-briefings with key reporters
- The timing of coverage and when you want coverage to appear (and in the case of online/print publications, this can be tricky)
- How strategic your press release strategy is – what are you using the release for? SEO, actual communication with the press, pick up on wires, blogger fodder?
- What is your release distribution method and strategy?
- What kind of press release you are issuing?
Different industries have different rhythms and different busy/not busy days and the publications that follow those industries tend to mirror those. I would time a press release for the entertainment industry very differently than one for the tech community. (We all expect to hear the weekend’s top movie listing on Monday morning, right?)
If your top publication is a weekly that has an editorial cycle ending on Wednesday, why would you issue a press release then? Or course, if you are just using press releases to communicate with your top publication, you may have other issues. Which brings us to the next point…
Your top reporters should be getting the news before you issue a press release. For them, the timing needs only to mesh with their intended coverage. (I.e. you issue the press release simultaneous to their story appearing or just afterward. Or maybe you have negotiated with them, offering an exclusive “First Look” at your news. Know what an exclusive is and how to manage it.)
What is your press release strategy? Do you issue press releases monthly to ensure that something (anything) comes up in Google News for this month before it is archived, and the releases are often “manufactured news”. Do you issue releases only when there is important, earth-shattering news? Are you a public company and you issue news of a material nature? Or quarterly numbers? All these considerations impact the day of the week and the time of day that you issue your release on.
Who do you want reading the release — is it really intended for reporters? Customers? Partners? Are you using social media distribution tactics? (Did you know that Twitter’s traffic increases over the weekend?) Are you sending it directly to reporters? Over the wire? Do you need it to stay top of a list for a longer period of time?
And, what kind of release is it specifically? In the “old” days, if you wanted to bury bad news, it generally came out late in the week, late in the day. (Of course, reporters watched for this tactic but weekends and life in general often helped keep things quieter.) Public companies in general don’t issue press releases while the stock market is open so you see lots of public company releases early in the morning (Eastern time) timed to catch the eye of a trader who is getting to their desk and looking for news on their favorite stock. Is it a new hire? A new product? Different kinds of releases go out on different days and at different times.
Work with your agency or PR to determine your distribution strategy and timing cycles. Don’t take someone else’s best day but determine your own. Use your website analytics to measure effectiveness in driving traffic and engagement and don’t assume you know the right answer in terms of when to issue your release until you have tested your theory.