PR pitches: the best times to email journalists

by | Jan 10, 2017 | Pitching Tips, Public Relations

As a PR professional, part of your craft is constructing the perfect email to send to journalists. But be careful before you hit send; while you are no doubt an expert at producing well-written and engaging emails, you may not be quite as expert at determining the best times to email journalists.

If you want to get the attention of journalists, or other influential professionals, just when you hit send can make or break your campaign or media outreach. So be sure to follow the below to achieve maximum results.

1. Avoid Mondays, Friday afternoons, and weekends

According to MailChimp’s Send Time Optimization feature, late Friday to early Monday is not one of the best times to email journalists. The reasoning behind this is probably pretty obvious: most people who work Monday to Friday don’t want to hear from you on the weekend, and aren’t particularly interested at the very end of the week, either.

Same goes for the bleary-eyed beginning of the week. Megan Marrs, a content marketing specialist at Localytics, warns against sending emails on what she calls “Mad Monday”, the day, she says, most people clear out all the content that came in over the weekend.

To avoid getting passed over during most journalists’ weekly inbox purge, wait to send till at least Tuesday. People are more likely to engage with emails in the middle of their work week. If you can, save your email for Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

2. Send at the beginning or end of the day

You probably don’t want to skip sleeping in, but sending your email in the early hours can help get your contact’s attention.

PR Daily reports that over 70 per cent of Americans first check their email between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. A further study showed that 42 per cent of people first open their email on their mobile phones before arriving at work.

If you’re more of a night owl than an early bird, you might also consider sending your email later at night. About 70 per cent of Americans also check their emails after 6 p.m., most before heading to bed.

3. Check your clocks

When your dealing with contacts or clients outside your local time zone, it’s easy to forget it may be the middle of the night in your target locale.

For example, if your head office is in Denver, you may think you’re sending an email at 3 p.m. — but if your contact is in New York City, they’re going to receive that email at 5 p.m. their time. Now you’ve caught your contact leaving work, possibly in traffic, and certainly not paying any attention at all to your email.

So, check the time zone of your target area and make sure to send your email at a time that’s best for your contact (and not for you).

4. Be aware of holidays and major events

Like time zone differences, certain regions celebrate different holidays. Canadian Thanksgiving, for instance, is celebrated almost a month earlier than American Thanksgiving.

If you send an email to a contact in another region that’s on holiday then, best case, you’ll get a response a few days later. Worst case, your email will be ignored and you won’t hear back at all.

It’s also wise to keep track of major events in your target region or in your target’s vertical or beat to determine the best times to email journalists. If something big is happening, journalists or contacts are likely to be too swamped or distracted to attend to your email. This is especially important when contacting journalists; waiting till the air clears will ensure you don’t get passed over for a bigger story.

Writing your emails, of course, can come whenever the creative urge strikes you. But as far as sending emails goes, be sure to follow the guidelines above as much as possible; they could mean the difference between getting a call back and being tossed in the trash.

Chantelle Brule
After receiving her Master's in Communications from Carleton University, Chantelle brought her research experience to Agility's Media Insights team as a data analyst. She's particularly good at what she does.


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