Here’s What the Data Says About the Best Time to Send a Press Release to Avoid Going Viral
May 22, 2020
If you need to put out bad news, we all know you do send a press release on Friday as part of your marketing strategy, right?
Or even better, you do it right at 5pm before the weekend, when people are checked and ready to start on their weekend plans.
And, if the news is really really bad, perhaps try the eve of a long holiday weekend like Memorial Day, when everyone has left the office early and won’t log back in for days.
But, in the age of 24-7 social media what is the best time to send a press release? And, besides, more and more it seems the media are just getting sick of it and calling it out—potentially worsening the problem.
A local Cleveland news station began collecting Friday news dumps and posting them online. The station said, “We have been on the receiving end of so many news dumps that we have begun to call them out when they happen.”
So, that raises the question, “Does the Friday news dump work?” And, as a corollary, what if actual bonafide good news happens to break at the wrong time, is it going to end up getting ignored or panned just because the weekend is coming?
Let’s look at the data on Friday press releases:
According to Muck Rack’s State of Journalism 2020, only two percent of media like to receive pitches on Friday – compared to 20 percent for Monday and 10 percent for Wednesday.
Notably, 62 percent had no preference, but also, two percent said they like pitches on Thursday – the same amount as Friday.
Looks a little risky for the Friday news dump so far. A reporter with wanderlust might be inclined to ignore it to get on with the weekend. But, it might make them cranky.
Sixty-four percent of reporters also said they like to receive news alerts in the morning – between 5am and 12pm. Just four percent saying they like media alerts in the evening from 6-10pm; was the lowest percentage of reporters out of preferred times, which also included 12 percent liking between 12-3pm and six percent preferring 3pm-6pm.
So even based on the opinions of reporters, they don’t want to receive a press release on Friday or in the evenings, although it looks like Thursday could also fit the bill.
The only other options that seem more likely that a press release will get “lost” are Saturday and Sunday, with zero and one percent of reporters preferring pitches those days.
But what about social media?:
A post can get significantly more or less traction depending on the time and day of release? Does the data tell a different story?
Earlier this year, social media management platform Sprout Social, analyzed the engagement of social media posts on a variety of platforms on a variety of topics – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for global engagement, healthcare, nonprofit, education, consumer goods and more.
For almost every popular social media site in each category, either Saturday or Sunday, or both, were the worst days to post anything if you are afraid it might go viral. Of course, this makes sense since most people aren’t engaged with work these days.
For the sake of easy comparison, one thing was very clear when looking at just global engagement on each of the social media platforms – engagement significantly dropped off from 12pm onward on Fridays (for LinkedIn, after 9am on Friday engagement began to decrease).
What also stood out, on all social networking sites except LinkedIn, was that Thursdays also were not good days for social media engagement:
- Facebook engagement on Thursdays held steady between 10am and 2pm, but after that, it dropped.
- On Twitter, engagement began to drop after 9am on Thursdays.
- For Instagram, 12pm seems to be the cutoff and engagement begins to decline and last through the afternoon.
Overall Friday still seems like a good day to discard unwanted news
Overall, it still seems that the best time to send a press release is on Friday afternoon if the goal is to discard unwanted news.
According to the data though, it looks like Thursday afternoons aren’t a bad option either for this PR strategy. And, a journalist might be just a tad happier with the ploy.
Conversely, if you have the luxury of picking the day of the week to alert the media about your good news, it still best to try for a Monday or Tuesday.
If you have any questions about press releases, media relations, or issue management, please feel free to contact us in our Washington, DC office.