Despite oft-heard forecasts that the press release is an obsolete PR tool with very little to offer journalists or other audiences in the modern age, new research from comms-focused data science company Onclusive reveals that like any tool, it can be greatly effective if used optimally.
“These new benchmarks reveal some interesting things. First, reports of the death of the news release have been greatly exaggerated. When you look at the average volume of editorial coverage and social media amplification that news releases continue to generate, it’s clear that this is still a vital tool in the arsenal of the modern communicator,” Sean O’Neal, president of Onclusive, told Bulldog Reporter.
“Second, we now have hard data which suggests actual best practices for issuing your releases, including the best time/day combinations and the use of multimedia,” O’Neal added. “This is the first time communications teams have had any clarity around which timing or formatting strategies drive actual business results.”
In this first study to ever try to determine factors that affect the performance of news releases, the firm analyzed 15,000 anonymized Business Wire news releases over the last few months.
It’s all in the timing
The timing of a PR news release has a major impact on both the resulting number of journalist articles and the number of times a direct copy of the news release is shared in another venue. The most popular time for PR teams to post their news releases is Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. ET, which has 10 times the press release volume of the average hour for the rest of the week.
According to the research, the majority of investor relations (IR) releases go out around 3 p.m. ET on Wednesdays, but there are also big pushes at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. early in the week, depending on whether companies are trying to move the market with their results or trying to avoid that movement.
Diving deeper into timing, the data also shows that at the 30-minute mark, the volume of releases is just 30 percent of the volume of releases posted exactly on the hour. For releases at the 15- or 45-minute mark, that volume drops to between 5 percent and 10 percent—improving the likelihood of any single release being seen.
The average number of media stories per release is 10, but greater news value equals greater pick-up. “We found earned media articles into the hundreds for big companies with very newsy items like Apple launching a new iPhone,” said Dan Beltramo, CEO of Onclusive, in a news release.
Assuming the release is newsworthy, the best days to put it out to generate media articles are Tuesdays and Fridays. Tuesday is the better day for general releases, and Fridays appears to work best for stories that are less about hard news, perhaps because journalists have more time at the end of the week or over the weekend to consider such items.
Social media amplification for all kinds of PR releases is greater on the weekends
This is perhaps because people have more time to consider and share. News releases that had global distribution showed an average of 20 percent more social media amplification than releases without that global reach. Using multimedia assets in the release boosted social media amplification by an average of 12 percent.