Why Issuing a News Release on a Friday Before a Holiday Weekend is a Terrible Idea

By on Thursday, September 2, 2010

It never ceases to amaze me – inevitably – a client will pop up clamoring to issue a news release announcement on the Friday before a holiday weekend. That’s a terrible idea for most organizations and here’s why:

1. Reporters are like everyone else – they take time off.
Issuing your release on the Friday before the holiday when newsrooms are low-staffed and the few folks around are on assignment covering breaking news – pretty much guarantees no coverage if your story is not extremely timely and related to immediately breaking news. There is a reason why companies wait until Friday afternoon to issue news releases about product recalls or poor earnings. It’s because they are hoping no one will cover it.

2. Your news release will end up in email hell.
Most news releases are issued via email or through a combination of email, web and social media nowadays. Your news release issued on Friday morning, will end up at the bottom of a long mountain of email the targeted reporter has to sift through after returning from a holiday weekend. Standing out is that much more difficult when you are buried under a mountain of email. Social media releases have a better chance of catching attention, but it’s still the holiday weekend and reporters are less likely to pay attention.

3. The dilution effect can steal your thunder.
A great and insightful report with new statistics on a hot topic may be sidelined or diluted by an ill-timed release. If announced on a regular weekday and within the context of an event that provides visuals, that report might have garnered significant media interest. Releasing the information on a Friday before a weekend may mean the report is reduced to a one-paragraph summary in media coverage by a wire service.

So what do I do with my client who wants to issue a news release on Friday? I usually talk with them about why issuing a news release on the Friday before a holiday weekend is like shooting their PR strategy in the foot. Then we talk about what is the best time to issue a news release about this particular program, report, development or story.

Holiday Weekend Events Seeking Media Coverage Require Pre-Planning & Early Notice
If the client has an event during the holiday weekend, it’s especially critical that media advisories and followup happen WELL in advance of the holiday weekend, so the event is in media planning calendars. So we often will backpedal our schedule and issue an advisory several days or a week or two in advance of the weekend and do followup calls. Unfortunately, you can’t do that if the client calls you the Thursday before the weekend.

Breaking News: The Exception to the Rule
If the organization has breaking news of enormous national, regional or local implications that cannot wait (and to be fair – I did once have a client in this situation on Labor Day Weekend a few years ago), then the news release should go out (and you should probably be staffing a crisis operations center).

For most organizations and clients – the best advice is to wait – and to issue a news release when the timing is better.

Everyone wants to know what you think.

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