The Power of the Press Release

29 Aug The Power of the Press Release

As PR professionals, it’s important to make sure that the recommendations we are making to our clients are with merit.  In my position, I often get the question “Is putting a press release out over the wire worth all of that money?” We all know that press releases are valuable for gaining exposure through inbound links and increasing SEO, but how about from a press perspective? My job is to help our clients achieve many goals, one of which is getting journalists and press to cover these press releases. So, are press actually reading them and are the worth the price?

newspaper-400x276-resized-600.jpgI think the vague answer to this question is, it depends. It depends on the client, the announcement, the goal for the announcement, and the overall strategy for the news outside of the press release (marketing, social media, etc.).

But, to help us gain some first-hand insight as to what information journalists are looking for and how they want to receive that information, Business Wire released the results of its 2014 Media Survey.  They survey polled more than 300 journalists in North America from different industries (publishing/media, technology, government, healthcare, food/beverage, health/fitness, etc.) and numerous types of journalists (bloggers, editors, freelancers, producers, etc.).  And, here were some of the notable findings:

  • Almost 90% of responding journalists referenced a press release in the previous week, with 62% using one in the past 24 hours
  • The most sought after type of story information in a press release included: breaking news (77%), supporting facts (70%), interesting story angle (66%), quotable sources (52%), company background (50%), trending industry topics (49%) and supporting multimedia (29%)
  • 64% of journalists prefer to receive news via email pitch and 28% prefer to receive it via press release
  • Hardly any (.7%) of reporters want you to call them with news
  • Almost 71% of reporters surveyed use a press release from a newswire service at least once per week


There seems to be a relatively favorable response supporting the value of the press release specifically for journalists.  As a communications professional, more interesting to me is that the survey found journalists still prefer for me to send them our news via email pitch and press release.  I’ve had success with this personally, and often times we recommend our clients put a release over the wire and then we email both a tailored pitch along with the press release text to targeted reporters.   And, according to this study that strategy is holding strong.  And, although it might seem that social media could be an effective way to communicate news to the public, reporters don’t look to their social feeds to get the news or details for their reporting, according to the study.

Ultimately, and despite the fact that this is clearly a survey sponsored by a newswire service, I think viewing reports like this is an important part of what should be an ongoing analysis of your PR strategy. It’s important with such an evolving media landscape to make sure you are regularly and continually looking at trends in journalism to ensure your clients’ news is being distributed as effectively and favorably as possible. Something important to keep in mind, however, is that no matter what general survey results report, it is best to form personal relationships with the journalists that matter to your clients and learn how they, individually, prefer to interact with you to get the best results and establish yourself and your client as a valuable and trusted resource.



Kate Nesbitt
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