The statistical case against press releases

The author’s company looked at metrics for 1,000-plus releases and found discouraging ROI. Here are the numbers behind the latest obituary for the longstanding practice.

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What occurs a thousand times a day but is rarely noticed?

The answer: Public relations professionals publish a press release.

Shift Communications delved into the raw Google News database of millions of news stories per year to extract just press releases. What we found amazed (but didn’t surprise) us.

Last month, for the first time in almost three years, PR professionals cranked out an average of 1,092 press releases per day. As of this writing, PR professionals have generated 236,356 press releases in 2016.

That batch of 1,092 press releases per day is an enormous flood of news to create, and press releases are not inexpensive. Although some wire services offer “low-cost” press releases, many charge from $200 to $1,200 per release. Consider what 236,356 press releases annually have cost companies and agencies: somewhere between $47 million and $283 million this year.

Do press releases work?

Let’s look at some of the median content metrics around these releases.

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