Data proves the strategy behind issuing a Friday press release

“When is the best time to send my email?” In marketing, there is a host of analysis, best practice and science behind answering that thorny question.

In public relations, not so much. This is an industry that has long relied on qualitative tactics and gut instinct.

Until now. Because data can, in fact, validate whether key press strategies can work for a brand.

Take the case of Ryanair. No stranger to publicity, Ryanair is usually keen to generate as many headlines as possible. But, when it was forced to cancel around 1,900 flights due to administrative errors last month, the airline resorted to a common industry tactic – minimising attention by sneaking the announcement out late on a Friday afternoon.

Did it work? Dublin-based artificial intelligence firm Aylien, which monitors thousands of news sources and social media interactions, ran the numbers to find an answer. What it found helps ground PR strategy in visible data.

Response to the Announcement - Twitter vs News Coverage

Conversations about Ryanair filled Twitter in the weekend after the company’s announcement – but it took the news media until Monday, when most reporters returned to work, to catch up.

In this way, the Friday release managed to go direct to consumers, but underplay the extent to which journalists would pile on.

“Ryanair successfully got out ahead of the story and minimized the immediate impact,” writes Aylien’s Will Gannon.

Whilst many journalists did not cover the Friday story over the weekend, the story nevertheless gained its social media highpoint when they returned in the week.

Aylien’s data shows most of the stories about Ryanair were shared on Monday – not because journalists were writing brand new stories about the controversy, but because so many of the weekend stories were still in users’ Facebook news feeds.

Everyone knows that bona fide news stories fuel social sharing. In this way, it seems Ryanair’s tactic of issuing its news at a time that would generate fewer, more spartan reports succeeded at kickstarting the week’s next round of sharing by repeating the same, initial message.

“However bad the coverage was on Monday, the old PR trick of dumping stories on a Friday evening also has an effect on the spread of news on social media,” according to Aylien.