When is the Right Time to Issue a News Release?

What is the best time of the week to send out a press release? The traditional answer is that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days, while Mondays are rather iffy since people are going to be deluged by emails from the weekend. Fridays, according to traditional advice, are the worst days, especially Friday afternoons and evenings.

I am going to register a partial disagreement. When it comes to real, dramatic news such as a jury verdict or an appeals court decision that matter to journalists and their readers, be prepared to issue the release and make your attorneys available at any time of the week, including Fridays (and weekends if needed). The 24-hour news cycle has changed many of the old rules, and journalists want to stay ahead of the news and ahead of their competitors. They don’t put down their phones and tablets just because it’s 5 p.m. on a Friday. And you too, as a PR person, want to make sure that you stay ahead of your competitors and that your attorneys get quoted.

If a decision does come out at 5 p.m., there may still be reporters who are ready to write about it. You don’t necessarily have to write a news release at that moment, but you should send the court document to reporters along with a brief description of the decision and a comment from your lead attorney. The 24-hour news cycle means that websites and blogs are being updated by the minute, so don’t wait until Monday to tell news outlets about the decision. Send out the news as soon as you have it; your attorneys should have received enough preparation to talk to the press at that time. If you don’t hear back, follow up on Monday.

As a PR blogger wrote last year,

If you have real breaking news of high interest to reporters, you should send out a release and make calls (to news desks). This happens sometimes for government agencies who are coping with a threat to public safety, or for organizations or businesses that have had something truly catastrophic happen to them that is of high interest to the media and can’t wait. If you have important information that impacts public safety or breaking news that is highly likely to be covered by the media – you should send it out as soon as you can. Very, very few news releases meet these requirements – but if yours does – send it out when it needs to go out, even if it’s the weekend.

In my view, a key court decision that affects your law firm, your clients, and an industry as a whole, one that journalists have been waiting for, meets these criteria and should not wait.

On the other hand, if the basis of the news is a lawsuit that your firm is filing, you can control the timing. Wait until a Monday or a Tuesday to file, assuming that all else is equal, so that you can maximize media coverage if the lawsuit is compelling enough for media attention.