Whether you’re distributing a regular email blast to customers or mailing a good-old-fashioned printed piece, newsletters (or whatever you choose to call a regular message to your stakeholders) are one of the best ways to stay connected with and on the minds of the people who matter to your business.

I’ve noticed that many companies agonize over one aspect of these publications: when to distribute them. And no, I don’t have a magic answer. Most of the time, exactly when you send it is far less important than the fact that you do send it. There may be a time of the week or month during which your average recipient is more receptive to your messages, so common sense would tell you that’s a good time.

But whenever you do choose to send it, give it an advance date. For example, if you’re going to send out your printed newsletter in late October, give it a November cover date. If you plan to push out that email blast every Thursday morning, give it a Friday date. Or, if it’s a quarterly effort and the next one is going out in mid-June, call it your Summer issue.

Most companies get hung up on this practice, often because they believe that post-dating their publications is somehow deceptive. It isn’t, and it beats the heck out of what usually happens, which is stakeholders receiving their October issues in early November. Not only does that make you appear to be late … it sends a subtle message that you’re a poor planner. Conversely, when that November issue arrives in late October, you look like you’re on top of things. That’s why most national magazines operate that way … and it’s why you should, too.