If you publish corporate material on an intranet presumably you want staff to read it. Yet how many communicators really think about when is the right time to publish for maximum impact? Steve Nichols of InfoTech Communications takes a closer look.
The easy answer is to publish your content when you have something to say. But this presupposes that your audience is the same, whatever the time of day, or day of the week. This is just not so. The type of content management system (CMS) in use on most intranets just exacerbates the problem.
Most CMS work on a scrolling, "first in, first out" basis, with new news being given priority. Once three or four stories have been published, any previous content is pushed either off the screen or appears "below the fold", needing a scroll to see it. This means that for maximum readability an important news story must be left on its own for a period of a few hours at the top of the tree.
Once three or four more stories have been published on top it effectively becomes invisible. But content management aside, is there a right time to publish? Anyone working in an office will know that Mondays and Fridays are usually the favourite days for holidays or "sickies". The extended weekend, whether approved or not, is fact of life within most organisations. The truth is that if you publish important news material on either of these days a large percentage of your readers may never see it.
Core days tend to be Tuesday through Thursday, although you can never guarantee any given day will give you maximum exposure. If any of these butts up against a public holiday then, again, you may miss staff. So given that midweek is best, what about timing? This is another difficult question, and will depend upon your workforce and the nature of their work. Before 9am is probably a no-no, and the period between noon and 2pm will catch many at lunch. Leave it until after 3.30pm and the chances are that some will be heading home.
So core periods of between about 10am until noon and 2pm -3pm seem favourite.
But my own experience shows that mornings are usually the busiest as workers attend to mail, e-mail and generally clear the decks. This is not a great time for checking intranet news feeds, unless the stories are short and to the point.
My experience with the IC e-zine tends to bear these findings out. I am able to monitor the response to the e-zine in minute detail and in real-time too. As soon as it is published I can see how many people are reading it and what they are clicking on. The difference in readership between editions that have been published during mid morning and mid afternoon have been dramatic.
The consensus seems to be that about 2.45pm on a Wednesday afternoon is the sweet spot. Even so, I can guarantee that I will receive "out of office" responses from around 5% of recipients, proving that you will never catch everyone all the time.
Either way, "when" you publish must be as important as "what" you publish if you expect people to read it.
About the author: If you publish corporate material on an intranet presumably you want staff to read it. Yet how many communicators really think about when is the right time to publish for maximum impact? Steve Nichols of InfoTech Communications (www.infotechcomms.co.uk) takes a closer look.