The worst times and days for press releases

One of the staples of the public relations industry is the press release, or media release. We’ve talked at length about them, including constructing several versions of the social media press release, but content is only half the equation in all forms of marketing and PR. The other half of the equation is distribution, or who sees your content. If the goal of a press release is to get noticed by media sources, it logically follows that the absolute worst time to publish a press release is when everyone else is publishing a press release.

Using four weeks of publication data from MarketWired, we looked at what days and times the wire services are getting swamped with press releases. First up to bat? The day of the week.

Press release schedules

Mondays are popular, but Tuesdays even more so. MarketWire registers the most number of press releases on Tuesdays. Fridays are the least busy day during the work week, and almost nothing comes over the wire on the weekends.

What about timing?

Press release schedules
Note: all times are Eastern.

The 8 to 9 AM ET times are when MarketWire is deluged with new press releases. On the surface, this makes sense – after all, companies want to get in front of the news cycle for the day, so they publish in the mornings. The problem is, everyone publishes in the mornings, and thus if you’re a media publisher looking for something interesting, you have a needle in a haystack challenge from so much noise.

What do you do next? If you’re doing a media release, you have a couple of options. First, you can test counter-cyclicality. In the mobile age, there’s no such thing as work-life balance (if we’re to be totally honest about it), and thus sending a media release on a weekend or at a very off-hour might get more notice. Test it to see if that works for you.

Second, you can extend the life of a media release into other parts of the day and week by using the SHIFT Earned Media Hub model. If it’s truly a significant piece of news, share it with your social networks, publish it on your website, turn it into a social media release, buy some paid ads to promote it, blog about it, add it to your content distribution strategy, ask others to blog about it, and do everything you can to get more sustained, longer-term attention to it than just a “fire and forget” press release.

Finally, apply common sense. One of the absolute worst days for a press release in any given year? April Fool’s Day. Even if your announcement is completely sincere, publishing or launching anything on April 1 is guaranteed not to be perceived as credible.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Disclosure: The press release sampled data comes from the MarketWired feed and was collected for the period 1/14/13 to 2/12/13. No filtering was performed on the feed, and thus it includes all press releases from all categories. No press releases were included from other wire services. Data was collected using the Google Reader software and is set to the Eastern Time Zone (UTC -5). Graphics from Google Reader were edited in Photoshop to remove Items Read category as it’s not relevant to when the items were published, but no other manipulations were performed.

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Posted on February 12, 2013 in Press Release, Public Relations

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Responses (11)

  1. JuliaE
    February 12, 2013 at 8:21 am · Reply

    No such thing as work- life balance because of mobile?Sure there is and there should be more. Let your employees send the release from home. Use cloud reporting. Utilize digital conferences. Screw office hours. Flex time. Be truly mobile.

  2. JeffOgden
    February 12, 2013 at 9:36 am · Reply

    Great post and interesting data.  I believe the best approach in marketing is to do what others are NOT doing. Everyone is sending email. You send a direct mail. Everyone issues press releases on Tuesday, you do Friday. Everyone sends early in the am. You send at 5pm.  Avoid the crowds.
    “Contrast” is one of the things that @chrisbrogan talks about in his book, The Impact Equation, and on Marketing Made Simple TV on Thursday, February 14, 2013..
    Your thoughts?

  3. peoplefw
    February 12, 2013 at 10:55 am · Reply

    i agree with JuliaE. Flexibility, and thinking about your audience as a whole.  What I have found to work best is “sprinkling” posts / media releases across varying times, depending on your audience/market and national or international.  Gotta stay mobile and flexible!

  4. Trace_Cohen
    February 12, 2013 at 11:33 am · Reply

    Makes sense – send it out early in the day and hope it propagates. Having never used a wire before, do writers/journalists actually “look” through them to find news?

  5. Lucy Siegel
    February 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm · Reply

    The study you did only measured the number of releases distributed by Marketwire on the various days of the week and times of day, but the best time of day and day of the week really depends on the degree of audience reaction at the various times, and that wasn’t measured. Business Wire did research with a couple of partner organizations (including Rutgers University) about a year ago that did measure this. There’s a white paper that resulted, entitled “Linking Press Release Output to Outcomes.” It’s too complex a study to describe in a sentence or two here, but briefly, they sent out very similar releases one after another on different days of the week, and they put tags on hyperlinks in each release. The goals of each release were the same: to get people to register for a course at the university. They used BW’s NewsTrak service to measure how many times each release was viewed and the number of clicks on links in it. Using the tagged links, they could measure the number of visits to Rutgers’ website from each release, and also the “conversion rate” —the % of  visits that resulted in course registration.  
    There may be something to the comment that if nobody else is distributing releases on Fridays or weekends, then that’s the best time to do it. However, there could be an excellent reason why nobody distributes releases then. It takes more than measuring how many releases are distributed by a wire service on various days to answer the question about which day of the week is best. Even if we are able to determine more scientifically which day gets the best reaction, I think the choice of day depends on the subject matter and type of audience one is looking for.

  6. Dan Janal
    February 13, 2013 at 10:03 am · Reply

    This article starts from several faulty premises:
    1. All reporters get deluged with all press releases. False. Reporters, or at least smart ones, subscribe to feeds via RSS and keywords and Google alerts or other services. They get press releases targeted for their interests.
    2. If reporters search for press releases on PR Newswire, they can select categories of interest, such as consumer electronics, or technology. Again, not a flood of releases about things they don’t care about. It is easy to scan the headlines and read whatever interests them in the category. Also, PRN has an app that makes this very easy and formatted for mobile devices.
    3. Sending a release on Friday is not a good idea because many reporters like to leave the office early – and because there is a drop in readership on the weekends.
    4. Sending a release on a weekend is just plain stupid. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that reporters actually have lives and take care of kids on weekends, and don’t want to think about work. Just saying.
    5. I’d also suggest that Monday is a bad day to send releases because reporters are catching up on all the mail, spam, press releases, pitches, and other emails that accumulated over the weekend.
    6. I do think sending press releases early in the day has an advantage in that it has more time to spread and be shared.
    7. I totally agree with engaging in social media. I’d like to see more studies on the effectiveness and viralness of social media releases and shared media.

  7. 40deuce
    February 14, 2013 at 11:58 am · Reply

    Christopher, as community manager of Marketwire, I’m glad we were able to provide you with this data. Thanks for sharing it! 
    The question becomes, when should a company distribute a release? Being aware of these peak days/times is something to keep in mind; however, we also know there may be unavoidable factors driving release timing. The PR team should use its best judgement, considering who they’re trying to reach and when the best time is to tell the story.  We believe a high-quality release coupled with an integrated strategy, similar to the model you mention, is the most effective way to convey news. 
    Thanks again for sharing this data. If you, or any of your readers, have further questions, we’re happy to be a resource.
    Sheldon, community manager for Marketwire and Sysomos

  8. Karen Spillers
    February 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm · Reply

    Thanks for sharing.  I sent a business feature press release on a Friday afternoon and landed on the cover of the Saturday Business section.  Most important, it’s the weekends my clients spend more time with their “paper.”  On Monday, the emails from the C-Suite made for a great start to the work week.

  9. Early Wynn
    February 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm · Reply

    I work for a very large company that claims press releases are becoming irrelevant; essentially, a sign of not being very forward-thinking or creative enough. Further, we are constantly being told that  if we can’t tell the story with a visual graphic or video (instead of a press release), it’s probably not worth telling at all and is virtually guaranteed to be ignored.  I am not saying I agree, but this posting has me wondering if we should just assume media are using the same time they “used” to spend going through press releases to now go through all of the posts, graphics, videos that the high level executives say are the only deliverables that matter today? Or does this article basically apply to all of those old-fashioned companies who aren’t as forward thinking and cutting edge as our company?  
    (By the way, even though they are easy to read and definitely add to your story, your use of bar graphs are SO ineffective…just ask any consultant)

  10. AmberNicoleG
    February 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm · Reply

    I found this post really helpful. As a college student hoping to major in public relations and advertising I think this information is sure to come in handy one day. I further enjoyed reading all of the other comments, hearing real life advice and suggestions about when to send out a press release. I do agree, that social media is now altering the classic “press release”, however I think press releases are still a very prominent way for public relations personal to spread the word.

  11. Zoe Copeland
    January 9, 2018 at 1:53 am · Reply

    Press Releases are vital for business to grow they provide great exposure and is visible to more audience than u can get by blog writing and social media. Now days there are many site like that provide free press release submission in front of thousand of readers.

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