Survey of journalists gives tips for better press releases

Disrupting-the-Press-Release-StudyWhat do journalists really want from a press release?

For their 2014 “Disrupting the Press Release” study, PR firm Greentarget surveyed about 100 U.S. journalists to find out, through a series of focus groups with reporters and editors in Chicago and New York. Some key findings, according to Greentarget, include:

Beat the clock: Nearly 70 percent of the journalists surveyed spend less than a minute reading new press releases.

You had me at hello: 79 percent of journalists said the subject line impacts their interest in reading a press release.

Get to the bullet point: 53 percent of the journalists said they’d find it helpful if the key facts in a release were presented in bullet format.

A flood of information: 45 percent of our survey respondents got 50 or more releases per week—and 21 percent say they get at least 100 a week.

Be first in line: 44 percent of respondents prefer to get press releases in the morning—probably because they are more likely to be on deadline in the afternoon.

A little bird told me: Almost three-quarters of journalists surveyed use Twitter as part of their daily work. And 46 percent said they’d be open to getting press releases over the social network, if releases were adapted appropriately.

Although 88 percent of respondents said they find at least some value in press releases, only 34 percent said that they got story ideas from releases, and many reported receiving pitches that were unrelated to their work, too promotional, or too dense. Some of the most useful releases, they said, demonstrate thought leadership by offering unbiased original research.

“Journalists are telling us that much of what we produce isn’t all that useful,” said Aaron Schoenherr, one of Greentarget’s founding partners. “We should embrace that complaint and challenge ourselves to evolve in response. For us, that means opening a dialogue with clients around ways they might explore a new approach and, in the process, strengthen their relationships with journalists as a result.”

As one respondent noted: “The easiest releases to navigate are those that are direct, not attempting to be cute or clever. I’m not an end consumer, so I don’t need to be hooked. I just need to find the main point quickly so that I am free to move on.”

Do you have any other advice on how to make press releases more valuable?

Jessica Burnette-Lemon

Jessica Burnette-Lemon

Jessica Burnette-Lemon is CW’s senior editor.


  1. Linda says

    The most effective press releases seem to be the ones that include digital assets, such as video and photography, that can be downloaded and re-purposed easily. When we’ve created a multi-platform news release, we find the media interest exponentially increase.

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