With the firehose of digital, mainstream media, and social media content; knowing when your audience is engaged on each platform by using a social listening tool of their choice is key to a successful PR content program. After all, you can't reach the consumers that never see your content.
Timing is probably the most overlooked factor in decision-making and strategy. It underpins much of how we structure our day and yet we often take it for granted. That's why when you're considering the factors that result in a successful campaign, consider the time you send out a PR pitch and content.
So, Why is Timing So Important in PR?
Pitching stories to the media is a critical component of any PR strategy. And while email is perhaps the primary vehicle to getting your company’s stories out, often it's our greatest enemy. Journalists consistently cite email as their preferred method of contact, which sets you up against hundreds of other pitches, media alerts, and press releases that flood their inboxes every day.
What can you do to cut through the clutter and ensure your pitch is at the top of your contact’s inbox? If you’ve prepared content that’s quick, to the point, relevant, targeted to the journalist, and topped off with a catchy subject line, you’re halfway there.
But before hitting send, take a quick glance at the time – the time you send a PR pitch is one of the key factors that will play into whether your email is even opened. For those who work in PR or email marketing, there are a few best practices you can follow to maximize your open rates.
Send pitches in the morning or early afternoon:
The best time to send pitches is when the receiver is reviewing their inbox. This tends to be in the morning – many people check email just before or right at the time they arrive at work – or in the early afternoon when some people take downtime around lunch.
For major news, avoid Mondays and Friday afternoons:
As most of us know all too well, Mondays are typically a scramble to clear out emails and tasks from the weekend or the previous week, while headspace is often occupied with planning for the remainder of the week. Friday afternoons – which arguably, create downtime for certain email recipients – are also a busy time for many others who need to meet end-of-week deadlines. Friday afternoons can be a hit or miss, but to be safe, target the middle of the workweek when people are most likely to engage with their pitches.
Double-check time zones:
Of course, for marketers and PR professionals working with a global network of contacts, time zone differences are another factor to consider. If you’re in the U.S. sending news to a journalist in Europe for instance, the last thing you want to do is share an email during your afternoon, which ends up hitting their inbox at their dinnertime. Make sure to know where each journalist is based before you pitch, and plan accordingly.
Pay attention to seasonal events:
If you want your story to be noticed, avoid sharing it around certain holidays. An event like Christmas is a pretty obvious time for people to go silent over email, but keep in mind the other cultural or regional events that your recipient may be experiencing, depending on who they are and where in the world they’re located. It’s not just holidays either, it’s also important to be aware of other industry events that could be saturating the media at a given time. Tech companies, for instance, should steer clear of releasing news at the same time as CES, Apple’s WWDC or Google I/O, unless they have a specific tie-in.
There are a number of things we all know are vital to keeping your pitch from getting deleted: keep it tailored, personal, brief, and catchy. But, what’s just as important is thinking about how to ensure your pitches are even opened in the first place, and this could simply come down to the right timing.
What About Content?
Living in the Age of Content Shock
We’re producing A LOT of content these days. But is anyone consuming that content that we work so hard to create? Chances are that unless we’re posting it at optimal times, the answer could be – no.
Research says that each minute, there are:
- 448,800 tweets sent
- 65,972 photos posted on Instagram
- 1,440 WordPress posts created
No wonder we now live in the age of “Content Shock.”
What’s the best time to publish blog posts? CoSchedule says it depends on your goals.
To drive the most traffic, the best publishing day is Monday at 11 am EST. For most comments, the best publishing day is Saturday at 9 am EST. To earn the most inbound links, the best publishing days are Monday and Thursday at 7 am EST.
While this is based on research, it’s important to remember, “Sometimes you will write an amazing post and publish it on a Friday and still see it go viral. Sometimes your posts published at the optimal time will do nothing. Posting at the best times is like giving the article a helping hand, it’s not an actual traffic strategy,” advises BlogTyrant.
“I use Google Analytics to find where my audience is and create custom reports for the best day and time to post on my blog,” Peg Fitzpatrick, co-author of, “The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users” and blogger at Peg Fitzpatrick says.
Tuesdays are the best day to host a webinar, according to research, followed by Wednesdays and Thursdays. The day to avoid? Friday.
Timing-wise, 1 or 2 p.m. EST seems to work best for a U.S.-based audience.
But, consider your audience when choosing a day and time to host your webinar. What’s the best timing for them?
Ah, Twitter – great for real-time engagement, but the life of a tweet is fleeting. To be exact, it’s 18 minutes. That means you probably need to post A LOT to make headway on Twitter—or at least a lot more than on other social media platforms.
SproutSocial says Fridays are the best days to post on Twitter, while the “safest” times are 10 a.m. to noon. Sunday morning tweets get the least amount of engagement.
Instagram now has 800 million monthly active users. So, what are the best times to post on this increasingly popular platform?
“Surprisingly, Instagram user activity peaks at 3-4 a.m. EST on Sundays, yet Instagram posts on Tuesdays received the best engagement,” says a report published by MarketingProfs.
“For Instagram, I use Tailwind to give me best times to post,” says Peg Fitzpatrick, “It creates a schedule based on your past Instagram posts, and you can choose how many posts by day.”
LinkedIn is known as the world’s largest professional network. So, when do posts garner the most engagement on this platform?
The best time to post on LinkedIn is Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m., according to SproutSocial.
Posts shared on Friday through Monday receive the least amount of engagement.
Over to you
“It’s very hard to determine the ‘best’ times to post on social media or for blogging but using your own account’s past data is the best indicator,” Fitzpatrick says.
For more on optimal posting times, see CoSchedule’s comprehensive report based on 23 studies that cover the major social media platforms. And beyond knowing the best days and times for PR content, make sure you have the data within your stories to support a unique narrative.
When you’re ready to measure the ROI of your programs, download our free eBbook for the comprehensive KPIs your C-Suite wants to see.