Mastering the Art of The Press Release: Best Practices on Timing and Distribution

By: Emily Thompson, 1903 Public Relations

Press releases are a standard method for getting company information out to the world and can be a valuable tool in connection with your media relations efforts. Just as the media landscape continues to change, the use of the press release has also evolved. Some might argue that press releases are no longer relevant but they still serve a purpose. Primarily, providing a place  for directly communicating company news. According to Cision’s Global State of the Media report, 71% of journalists want to receive press releases from companies. Though relevant, press releases need to be used strategically in order to be effective. When used correctly, press releases are impactful and bring positive exposure to your organization.

When to Distribute a Press Release 

The first step in evaluating whether or not you need a press release is understanding that not every movement the company makes requires a press release. There are many methods for communicating out to the public and discerning when to best utilize this tool ensures your press releases remain impactful. Major company news like funding rounds, product launches, and new partnerships are seemingly press release worthy, whether they are compelling enough for media outlets to write about is a different question entirely. Press releases are designed to be a statement of record that comes directly from the company, with facts and statements by the company’s executive officers.  

A glance through the 2022 top-performing press releases give a clear overview of what is popular company news for press releases. Product launches, acquisitions, partnerships, funding, and executive hires were all successful topics in 2022. While some companies use press releases sparingly, others use them too much. It’s important to be tempered with what news is issued as a news release and what could be disseminated in other ways – such as social posts, newsletters or blogs. 

To really be successful, press releases should be one part of a multi-channel strategy that leverages media outreach, social posts, and email campaigns. A well executed, comprehensive PR campaign can leverage a press release to increase sales, investor interest, and partnerships. For press releases to keep a higher level of importance in your target audience’s mind, it’s important to not oversaturate the market with countless press releases that aren’t news. Product updates that aren’t new to the space would likely fall under this category. This can be a blog or even a social post. Making sure that your company is being strategic with the use of press releases will make sure people continue to take notice when you leverage this tool. 

Finding the Right Timing to Publish your Release

Once your company has decided that its news is press release worthy, it also must decide the best date and time to release the information to the public. Being strategic about when you release information is key that will inform how much or how little visibility the press release receives. Days like Thursdays and Fridays should only be used if you are trying to bury news in your press release. For information that companies are required to release, but that might lean negative are usually put out at the end of the week. It allows them to meet their requirements, but is unlikely to generate mass attention as everyone is heading out for the weekend. 

On the other hand, if you are trying to garner the most attention possible, there are many factors to consider. Monday morning at 8 a.m. ET has been thought as the best time since that’s when journalists first read their emails and markets open in the United States. We’ve found that the sweet spot to pitch reporters with news releases is Tuesday or Wednesday, and research agrees with this being the days that journalists are most likely to respond to emails.The time of day matters as well. You want to be near the top of their inboxes, so send the email first thing in the morning or early afternoon when people come back from lunch. This is a bit of a guessing game and best practices that can inform your email as some start work at different times, in different time zones.

If the goal of your press release is to get the press to cover your news, you might want to consider sending the news to reporters in advance of the official press release going live. Sharing news the same day you publish the press release doesn’t give reporters much time to react. Giving them a few days or weeks heads-up by pitching under embargo is key to setting your company up for success. An embargo is a promise from a reporter to hold news until an agreed on date/time and allows them to write a thoughtful story and have it come out when the press release is distributed. It helps their story be as timely as possible. 

For big company announcements, prepare the release in advance but wait to distribute publicly until you’re ready. Do not issue press releases on deals before contracts are signed, products are available or actions are being taken. Once news is out, there is no way to get it back and issuing a public statement that something positive for the company did not happen can lead to embarrassment, hurt sales and diminished trust. Timing is key, so develop an appropriate strategy that aligns with the announcement.    

What Type of Distribution Method Should be Used

After you’ve crafted your press release and decided on your distribution date, it’s time to choose your mode of delivery. There are a couple methods to consider: wire distribution, direct email to publications/journalists, or published on the company’s website. Wired distributions often have an associated cost that can range from $100 to $4,000 depending on the geographical distribution area, the length of the press release, or if it contains images/media. A wire service pushes your press releases to designated newsrooms where reporters can decide to publish it on their website or contact you for more information. While outlet publishing your press release directly from a wire service is different from an article or what we would consider “coverage,” it still serves a purpose in elevating a company’s SEO and visibility. 

Some companies choose to use a wire service for every press release, but this can be an expensive endeavor for smaller companies. We advise using a wire distribution service for only the most newsworthy announcement. 

For press releases that are not being placed on the wire, the common practice is to place it on the company’s website and share it with reporters directly. While not all media campaigns require a press release, some press releases really only need an accompanying social media post. Not using a wire service for every press release can help save money for news that will really move the needle for the company.

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