Promoting an Event? Distributing Your Press Release Should be Timed to Meet Today's Digital Needs.

Portfolio Image

October 13, 2015

The following was inspired by Caterina Lui's article on PR Newswire's Beyond PR blog: Going Against the Flow: The Best Time to Send Your Trade Show Press Release.

When a significant trade show or convention is on the horizon, the number of press releases that pertain to it go through the roof, especially as the event gets closer. For those on the receiving end of this information, like the journalists or the consumers, it's like walking into a hot steamy sauna and being whooped by the steam. There is no way that the key audiences for these press releases will assimilate all of the news so quickly.

"So," one might ask, "How come so many businesses or companies leave the distribution of their press release to the last minute?"

The reason is that we are creatures of habit and that's why history tends to repeat itself. We do things because we have always done it like that. It's amazing how many companies distribute their news on the day of the event, when it's too late to make any difference.

In the good old days, prior to the fax machine and the digital age, things were different. The trade show or convention press office ruled. Companies would simply print a gazillion copies of their press releases and shove them into the press room in hopes that journalists would pick them up and incorporate them into their stories. On the opening day of the event, journalists would congregate around the press room to chase after the releases.

But now, in the age of the Internet and all of the smart mobile devices, technology has changed everything. Journalists can now receive press releases in advance of the event and, having become engaged in a number of stories that interest them, they pre-plan much of their time at the trade show or convention to do interviews or have follow-up meetings with the people behind these stories.

These journalists are under the gun to get stories out as quickly as possible because, in the digital age, the news cycle has become much shorter. They are expected to get stories onto the Internet on the same day, if possible--print versions of stories may come out later, but digital stories must get out right away. So when these journalists arrive at the trade show or convention, they have already stopped looking for more news--they already are putting together the stories they have pre-planned to cover.

So how do you make sure that your news is on the radar of these journalists by the time they arrive at the event? 24-7 Press Release Newswire recommends at the minimum, a three release staggered approach. If it is a fairly large national annual event, you may want to start your first press release 3 months out.

Before you distribute your three press releases, you should have a goal for each release. What do you want to accomplish? Are you trying to build awareness of a new product or service? Are you trying to generate media buzz and excitement? Are you trying to dispel rumors by getting out a complete and accurate story? Do you want have the best chance of getting the journalists to stop at your booth? Are you trying to build an ongoing relationship with journalists so they seek your business out on a frequent basis over the long term?

The timing and content contained in these releases will be impacted by what you are trying to accomplish, but none of that will matter if you don't give journalists enough time nor generate enough of their interest to motivate them to create a pre-event game plan for covering your company.

Sending out multiple staggered and newsworthy press releases can also entice your audience. Perhaps you can structure your release with a cliff-hanger that will only be revealed at the event, like a surprise celebrity or a mystery product-journalists will only find out what the secret is by visiting your booth. Keeping these few tips in mind should help provide a successful gathering to your booth at your next event.

If your story is complex or is about something that will be very significant or industry-disruptive, you should distribute a press release at least three months before the event, following up with a media buzz press release a week or ten days later. If your story is more straightforward or simple and you want to simply generate media buzz, you should send a press release one or two weeks prior to the event. The reason for this timeframe is that it provides enough lead time for the journalists to read the information and organize a game plan to cover the story.

Sending out a third press release just prior to the event also is a good idea, but its purpose should be primarily to remind the journalists about your news, but it should be different and intriguing enough to motivate them to add your company to their event schedule if they haven't already done so.

Here are some other considerations that impact the timing of your releases: You should be aware of other news that may distract journalists from paying attention to your release. If you know that other major corporate news announcements are being released around the same time or day as your news, you may want to distribute your release sooner or wait until the media buzz about the other news has died down. You don't want your release to be lost in the shadows of some other company's major announcement.

But remember, you should consider your own availability (see point #5 when you send out the final press release. Submitting your press release for distribution immediately before boarding a plane--and then not being available--will only frustrate the media. When traveling to the event, you may have a number of hours of travel ahead of you. Don't click the send button and then be unavailable to receive inquiries. You might want to consider leaving for the event a day early, arriving on location and then sending out your press release so you will be available for inquiries.

You should also review an article we previously wrote that discusses integrating social media into your news distribution plan. It can be found here: