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, it’s oftentimes 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 and 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 – this is one of the key factors that will play into whether your pitch 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 work week 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 (like we do here at March), 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 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.