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17th March 2010

News Release

Public Relations Professionals Assess Value of Press Release Wires 

PR professionals value coverage more if journalists edit or re-write their press releases compared to an unexpurgated release appearing in core media, a new research report reveals. The research also found that while almost three quarters of PR people use press release distribution services, less than a third claimed that they gained coverage “all the time”.

Parker, Wayne and Kent Public Relations conducted the online poll of more than 550 public relations professionals from a wide variety of organisations and consultancies between October 2009 and February 2010. The respondents were asked to grade the value of different types of coverage – from a press release appearing on a press release distribution service to a press release being used to develop an article in core media with editorial input.

The participants rated the various coverage outcomes on a value scale of one (lowest value) to six (highest). The most valuable type of coverage, with an average value of 5.39, was for press releases that had been used to develop an article in core media, but with editorial input. The majority of PR people polled (59.4 per cent) cited this as the most favoured outcome for a press release. 

This compares to just over two fifths (41.3 per cent) of respondents who ranked “Press release and messages placed in full in core media” as the most valuable type of coverage, with an average score of 4.86.

“Practitioners placed the highest value on PR-generated coverage that has been edited by a journalist,” said the report’s author, Rob Jessel from Parker, Wayne & Kent PR. “Editorial input seems to make an article appear more trustworthy, as the information has been challenged or researched by an unbiased third party.” 

The third most valued type of coverage was “A press release that triggers interviews in core media but is not used” – with an average score of 4.07, and believed to be the most valuable by 17.5 per cent of PR professionals.

Both “Press release and messages placed in full in non-core publications” and “Press release appearing on an online news aggregator site” scored lower average scores; with 3.39 and 3.21 respectively – the former considered most valuable by 2.5 per cent of PR professionals, the latter most favoured by 6.3 per cent.

“Press release appearing on electronic press release distribution services” scored the lowest average score (2.94), although more than one in twenty (6.2 per cent) PR professionals selected it as their most valued type of coverage. 

“The survey indicates that many PR people not only desire their release to be edited by a third party, but they place a much higher value on content that appears in core media, as opposed to online news aggregation and distribution sites. This raises the question of whether paying to submit a press release to a newswire to get coverage in non-core media is an effective use of resources, cash or time,” said Jessel.

Use of Press Release Wires

Almost three quarters (72.1 per cent) of PR professionals use press release distribution services or “wires”, but as many as one in ten (9.8 per cent) claim that they only use these services to boost their organisations’ search engine rankings. 

More than two fifths of all respondents (41.8 per cent) said that these services only gained coverage “from time to time” and almost one in five (18.3 per cent) said that these services “very rarely” or “never” get coverage. Only one third (30.5 per cent) confidently claimed that they gain coverage “all the time”.

Interestingly, those respondents who said that press release wires “always” gained coverage were more positive about the value of appearing on a news aggregator site or on electronic press release distribution services. Over a quarter of the group (27.9 per cent) who said they “always gain coverage” gave a high value (5 or 6) to appearing on a press release distribution service; while almost a third (32.1 per cent) gave similarly high values to appearing on a news aggregator site.

The value of coverage

When asked if some coverage is more valuable than others, the answer was almost unanimous: 90.7 per cent agreed that some coverage was, indeed, more valuable than others. The respondents were then asked if they “distinguish between more and less valuable coverage when reporting to clients”. More that one in five (21.7) of those polled said that they do not state to their clients that some items of coverage are worth more than others.

“We believe it is important to establish a standard definition of valuable coverage,” said Jessel. “It must not be so prescriptive that it endorses only a tiny number of articles in national media; nor can it be too woolly, with no real meaning and offering no real guide to the value of the coverage achieved. In an open question on what constitutes valuable editorial coverage, our public relations peers seem to suggest three main criteria for “coverage”: appearing in trusted third party media that are channels or opinion-formers to the publics being targeted; an element of editorial input by a journalist; and the inclusion of key messages and company sources.

“Newswires such as PR Newswire and Business Wire would not be so successful if they did not achieve some positive results. However, reaching the widest audience is no substitute for targeting the most valuable audience. For PROs who wish to reach valuable target audiences through the key media titles they read and trust, newswires must be seen as complementary to traditional, and often time-consuming, PR activities such as developing good solid news and content, building relationships with journalists and selling in article ideas to media,” concluded Jessel. 

To read the full report, go to: http://bit.ly/95FlPX 

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