Functional Press Releases that Pop

Posted June 10, 2021 by Alyssa Stahr

Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you already know how to write a press release. After all, they haven’t changed that much over time. And, if you don’t, Google is a functional tool that can provide a wealth of information on that subject. Speaking of function, that’s an industry buzzword of rising consumer interest in the food and beverage space serving as a hot topic for 2021. Functional beverages, functional plant-forward diets, functional ingredients: We’re more interested in the “how and why” of things than ever before. 

Which brings me to the “function” portion of a press release. In this day and age, when editors, marketers and publicists are overloaded with inbox requests, how do you bridge the gap between hitting send and quality results that answer the “why” we’re writing them in the first place?

Get to the Point

I love a good story. Storytelling soothes children to sleep, creates bonds amongst friends and provides stellar screenplay fodder for Academy Award winning movies. It does not, however, belong in a press release. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. Say you’re an editor who receives on average — for argument’s sake — 100 press releases a day. This is where knowing your press release’s function is imperative. What point are you trying to make in sending this to said person? Burying your lede in order to choose your own narrative will automatically get your press release buried in the trash bin. 

AZBIGMEDIA reported in February in “11 New Media Trends to Anticipate in 2021”  that the average attention span of a millennial is 12 seconds, and the average attention span for Gen Z is only eight seconds. “Marketing teams in 2021 will need to begin experimenting on how to best convey their brand, messaging and call to action in a short, catchy video.”

Customization Equals Higher ROI

I get it, you don’t have a lot of time to write a custom press release to each person on your recipient list. But, just as recruiters can spot a templated cover letter a mile away, so can editors. They are looking for that special something in the release worthy of their time and space. The reality is that even if the editor had the time and patience to read through every single email, they do not have the proverbial page space to share them all to the masses. So, what if writers spent more time crafting press releases tailored from an eye-catching point of view? Or, perhaps narrowing down our lists to perhaps three main buckets of recipients and then having versions specific to those buckets? Or adding short videos to the release? As mentioned before, press releases’ formatting haven’t changed drastically over the years. The investment of time to put in additional effort of customization and visualization may pay off in the long run. Embrace change, or better yet, lead the change! 


Just as social media analytics deem when users are tooling around for content, there’s also a prime time for hitting the send button on press releases. Rather, after researching for Brightly’s press release strategy, prime times. One thing most researchers agree on is that Mondays and Fridays are the worst times to send a release. Emails have piled up from the previous Friday and the weekend, and even though some people bounce into Monday ready to tackle the work week, having a case of the Mondays isn’t a saying for no reason. 

Prowly was the first company I came across with quantifiable data. The four-minute read (thank you for the attention span notice at the top of the page) released earlier this year found that the average press release open rate for the marketing industry is around 18%. The company analyzed over 55,470 press releases sent from its own writers, and here’s what they found:

  1. The worst days were Wednesdays and Fridays. A whopping 85% of emails get lost in inboxes during that time. 

2. If you’re sending something during the weekend, you’re in the wrong business. 

3. Thursday is the winner! Is it because everyone is thirsty? Perhaps. But, most importantly, Thursday is the day, Prowly found, that important tasks have been completed and it’s not “quite” close enough to the weekend for minds to drift. It’s the optimal time to catch up on emails, with your press release in the waiting, just hoping to be noticed. 

Now that we’ve narrowed it down to Thursday, let’s look at the best time to send:

  1. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is the sweet spot, Prowly found. Editors open about one-third of received emails during this time. 
  2. Early mornings don’t hit the mark: open rates drop to 20.5% between 6 and 10 a.m. w
  3. Afternoons also have that after lunch drowsy effect. Only 26% of all messages get viewed between 2 and 6 p.m. 
  4. Uniqueness wins as well. Look at your inbox right now. How many newsletters, canned emails and spams have come across on the hour or the half hour? Prowly suggests sending at a unique time like 9:21 — factoring in differing time zones — to make your subject line pop. 

Need more tips on effective press release functionality? Contact Brightly Creative for additional tips and tricks.

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