The second-best time of day to pitch media is between 10 a.m. and noon, their time zone.
That used to be a slam-dunk time slot when they weren’t as busy. It was a sweet spot after they had rolled in, had their coffee, gotten through their overnight email and started moving forward with their day — but before lunch and looming deadlines.
But now they have to turn in multiple stories a day. Many are expected to post to multiple platforms, and then promote their work on social media.
So even that morning window has gotten cluttered. Absent any additional insight into your target media’s workflow, it’s still a decent time slot, if you have to guess.
That’s because the actual best time to pitch a given journalist or blogger is unique to each one.
One reporter might check email religiously at 8 a.m. but never after 5 p.m. (like the USA Today reporter I spoke with). Another might put off non-urgent email until she turns in her primary story for the day around 7:30 p.m. (like a Wall Street Journal reporter I used to pitch).
And of course, the best time of day to pitch varies widely depending on the type of media you’re pitching. A general rule of thumb for pitching TV and radio producers, especially for morning shows, is to contact them within an hour of the end of that day’s show.
So how can you find the best time of day for your target media? Short of asking them, which is usually unwise until you’ve earned their trust, here’s what you do:
- Whenever you receive an email from one of your target journalists, record the time it was sent. Same thing with any contact from them via Twitter. Over time, your record will show if there is any rhyme or reason to their typical workflow (for some, there isn’t — they’re in their email constantly or virtually never).
- What if you’re not receiving emails or tweets from them? Give them a reason. React positively to their work and then add value beyond simply complimenting.
The primary takeaway from this post is to be systematic about logging timing clues. Anything you can do to inform your guesses increases your probability of success.
Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.