Whether you’re looking to make a big splash or go unnoticed, deciding when to release a major company announcement – good or bad – can play a strategic role in how the message is received among the media, the public and other stakeholders
On a random day in January, 137 releases were issued on PRNewswire in 30 minutes. Most hit inboxes at 8 AM EST. That’s a lot of email for reporters to sift through. According to CMO.com, press releases are viewed an average of 275 times during the week, and there are thousands being issued each day.
If you’re looking to gain maximum exposure for your announcement, there are some best practices to keep in mind.
E-blast service MailChimp shows on this fascinating chart that people are most likely to open an email around three o’clock in the afternoon, and that more messages are read on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Announce important news early in the morning to avoid getting lost in the crowd. This gives editors time to assign coverage well before deadlines need to be met, and it grabs the attention of international reporters as they plan their next day of stories.
On the other end of the spectrum, an oversaturated market can work in your favor when announcing less positive news. Midday announcements are more likely to get lost in the shuffle of deadlines and be overlooked by short-staffed publications. But given the unpredictability of the news cycle, companies shouldn’t rely timing alone to navigate negative news.
On those days when you’ve got no choice but to deliver bad news, you can use these rules in reverse. Or you might just get lucky. When LG wanted to confirm that it was leaving the tablet market and discontinuing its Optimus Pad, it did so on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement that it would be launching its own Microsoft Surface tablet. There wasn’t much interest in LG that day.
It’s also important to consider the significance of the news event in question. On September 11, 2001, a British government aide advised her boss, “Now it is a very good day to get out anything we want to bury.” Word got out, the blowback was epic, and she barely kept her job. It’s probably best to keep your trade secrets to yourself.
The best way to avoid major public backlash is to consider making the announcement internally, but to be prepared with an external statement if reporters start calling. If it’s not required by SEC regulations and won’t impact external stakeholders, relaying the news via a conference call or as part of a monthly client newsletter should be a consideration. Any potential leaks of your internal and client news to the media will them most likely occur after you’ve already communicated with your most critical audiences. This strategy will also allow time for sufficient time to decide if, when and how to react publicly.
You may not have the luxury of having ample time to deal with news. But if you do, announce early. Think of the tumult in the media that Pope Benedict XIV created recently with his sudden announcement to step down. Compare that to, say, how Raul Castro recently let it be known that he would retire in 2018 – and caused very little consternation. Now that is getting ahead of the news.