This blog post was updated on October 20, 2015.
When promoting an event via a press release, social media, or other content, it helps to identify the time zone for any times you have listed. This is especially true if you are targeting a broad audience with your message.
For instance, if your event is taking place in Chicago, but you are hosting a webcast of the event that’s available online, you should specify the event starts at 2 p.m. Central Time so that audience members in New York know to tune in at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
If you do decide to include the time zone, though, be careful. There are a couple mistakes waiting to happen that you can easily prevent.
Each month, PR Newswire’s customer content specialists catch thousands of mistakes while reviewing our customers’ press releases prior to distribution. Some of the most common errors they spot relate to time zones, as well as confusion over ‘daylight time’ and ‘standard time.’
Here are their tips for keeping timing details straight.
Convert between time zones correctly
There will be many occasions where you’ll need to include the time of an event in multiple time zones, as in the following sentence: “Our chairman and chief executive officer will be presenting at the conference on May 17 at 12:45 p.m. ET / 2:45 p.m. PT.”
Did your eagle eyes notice the mistake in this sentence?
There were two. First, there is a three – not two – hour difference between Pacific Time and Eastern Time. Additionally, when converting Eastern to Pacific Time, the hours count backward not forward.
With these catches, the sentence should have read: “Our chairman and chief executive officer will be presenting at the conference on May 17 at 12:45 p.m. ET / 9:45 a.m. PT.”
Although these are both easy mistakes to make, they are also easy to prevent. I always recommend using an online time zone converter (The Time Now and Time and Date sites are two easy-to-use examples), especially if you need to verify time zones in different countries.
Daylight Saving vs. Standard Time
When including time zones, many writers in the United States prefer to specify whether it is Daylight Saving or Standard Time (abbreviated EDT and EST, respectively, for the Eastern time zone).
Daylight Saving Time, which refers to when we “spring ahead” by one hour, begins in the U.S. in late winter. It ends during fall when we switch to Standard Time by “falling back” one hour. You can learn more about Daylight Saving Time, including upcoming beginning and end dates at timeanddate.com/time/dst.
When we spring ahead and fall back, it’s important to not just remember to change your clocks, but also keep an eye out for the correct usage of EDT and EST in your content, including press releases.
Although this mistake most commonly occurs around the months we make the switch, the rare EST vs. EDT typo does crop up in press releases throughout the year.
One way that this can happen is when someone copies the template of a press release they used earlier in the year.
If you do this, always doublecheck that you’ve updated any timing references — as well as years, months, dates, and days of week – with the correct information. Some individuals also shorten the abbreviation to ET to avoid any confusion.
Although Daylight Saving and Standard Time are common references in the United States, not all countries use it or they recognize it at different times of the year. If you plan on targeting your announcement to a specific international audience, World Clocks can provide you with the correct local times if you want to include them in your announcement.
When promoting an event, it’s essential to provide accurate timing information to your potential attendees. And by keeping global considerations in mind, your guests will know when to arrive on time – no matter where they’re coming from.
Creating content that’s accurate is only the first step in getting your message across; sharing your content across an assortment of paid, social and earned channels is critical. When you’re ready to take the next step, download our Quick & Easy Guide to Sharing Your News Release with the World for tips on doing it right.
Amanda Hicken is senior manager of strategic content, overseeing PR Newswire’s Beyond PR blog. Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken for tweets about the media, marketing, Cleveland, and comic books.
9 Comments on Blog Post Title
Took me a little while to realize my main audience is 3 hours behind my time. Eventually I found out in analytics though! 🙂
Only problem with that story though – in summer, abbreviating it ET can cause even more confusion, because ET is defined as GMT -5 hours (Eastern Standard Time). Many people are following Eastern Daylight Time (Atlantic Standard Time) that time of year, which is GMT -4 hours. So if something says ET, it is referring to a time an hour behind what many people (though not all) in the Eastern Time Zone might interpret it as. Those not following DST would interpret it correctly.
@Nick E I’ve never heard anyone confuse ET for EST. Rather when people see ET, they conflate it with whatever the time actually happens to be for the particular date specified in the Eastern time zone. It’s a pretty safe abbreviation to use when you don’t want to putz around with EST and EDT.
In legal contracts you use ET, CT, MT and PT when referring to a time, like a deadline so as to avoid any legal confusion. Not sure how you think it is confusing but feel free to be confused. The rest of the world knows what it means.
LOL Jones Cincy. Cincinnati? Just moved 🙂
Please realize that there’s lots of people who don’t live in communities that pretend it’s an hour later than it really is for half the year. For instance, when the US States in EST putz around with their clocks every Spring, all the countries in Central America (as well as most of the folks in Canada) do not. Also, the entire State of Sonora, and most of Arizona don’t either.
Most of the folks in Canada? It’s just Saskatchewan.
That is roughly 3% of Canada’s population, BTW.
If you’re going to correct someone might as well make sure you’re correct too: it’s not just Saskatchewan, there are a number of other exceptions. Easy to see with a quick Google. Here is one list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time_in_Canada
Still probably roughly 3% of the population though. 😉