We’ve all heard the old adage, “timing is everything”-- and when it comes to outreach, it’s definitely true. Being strategic about when you send your email can have as big an impact on the success or failure of your campaign as the content of your message, because if nobody reads it, your message doesn’t really matter, does it?
If an outreach message is sent, but nobody reads it... (via)
My co-worker Maria shared an awesome post on this topic a while back. In it, she broke down some general times to avoid doing outreach:
- Monday Mornings
- Fridays (period)
- Mid-mornings (or other high volume times of day)
These are spot on and definitely fall into the “times NOT to pitch” category. But what are some other times you should avoid doing outreach? Let’s take a deeper dive.
Be aware of time zones. This one is a biggie, especially if you’re doing a national outreach campaign. If you’re based out of Philly, don’t even think about calling (or even emailing) the West coast before Noon ET/9am PT, unless you want your message to fall on deaf ears. Based out of San Diego? Don’t do outreach to the (B)East coast after 2pm PT(5pm ET). If you’re doing phone outreach, don’t forget to take into account lunchtime in the time zone you’re calling.
If you have trouble calculating time differences or if you’re not sure what time zone a city’s in, you can always use a converter to help.
Time of Year
It’s crucial to think about what is going on in the industry of the person you’re trying to reach out to.
I recently did a lot of outreach to colleges, specifically financial aid offices. Because I have a younger brother applying to colleges, their schedule was top of mind for me and I was able to plan my outreach around it. For the record, times to avoid contacting financial aid offices:
- End of the semester (beginning of December for Fall; beginning of May for Spring)- These tend to be hectic times on a college campus, with students and staff trying to wrap everything up before the semester is over. Many offices close or scale back hours over breaks, so be wary of this as well.
- Beginning to mid February: The application for federal financial aid is due February 1, so this is a crazy hectic time for them, as it is all hands on deck putting together financial aid packages.
Another example: Tax Day just passed. Pitching accountants or financial reporters during their “busy season” is a sure fire way for you to not get a response (assuming it isn’t tax related). A good rule of thumb is to always think about what is going on in your industry (or your client’s industry) and what issues are going to take priority. If you think about it ahead of time, instead of in hindsight, you can get a leg up on your competition. And, it can make or break the success of your outreach campaign.
Times of Crisis
When a tragedy happens that grips the whole country, please don’t do outreach. Not only is it likely to not get read (or covered), there is potential for you or your client to look insensitive. The internet is littered with cautionary tales of brands who have come off as tone deaf with their pitches and social media posts in the wake of something tragic, like last year’s Boston Marathon bombings or 9/11. Don’t be the company that tries to inject themselves in the conversation by shilling their semi-related product. Newsjacking is best left for events like the Oscars or Super Bowl, where people are much less sensitive to commercial interests.
In general, being smart and strategic about when you do outreach will allow you to go much farther. Simple things like just being aware of what time of day it is and what is going on in your industry (and the world) will make you a more successful outreacher.