12 Days of Data 2020, Day 6: Press Release Top Level Statistics

12 Days of Data 2020, Day 6: Press Release Top Level Statistics

12 Days of Data 2020, Day 6: Press Release Top Level Statistics


Welcome to the 12 Days of Data 2020 Edition, our look back at the data that made marketing in 2020. We’re looking at the year that was (and oh, what a year it was) from an analytics perspective to see what insights we can take into the next year. Sit up, get your coffee ready, and let’s celebrate some data.

Press Release Top Level Statistics

On day 6, we continue our focus on the traditional press release, or news release. How many releases happened in 2020? What did they accomplish? Thanks to the Google News database and the GDELT Project, we are able to read all the press releases in 2020.

Press Releases

Last year we were only able to sample 20% of all releases, 37,748. Thanks to advances in computing technology, we were able to process all 194,483 news releases, a 3.04% increase from 2019’s total of 188,740 releases.

  • 13.1% of releases were sent by agencies, a decline of 5% from 2019
  • 51.4% of releases were sent using a wire service, a decline of 15.4% from 2019
  • 49.4% of releases had contact information, a decline of 12.3% from 2019
  • Releases still get 0 clicks, no change from 2019
  • 24.9% of releases had invalid contact information supplied, a sharp increase of 38.3% from 2019

The big headline there is the drastic change in contact information – a clear indicator that the overall employment market due to the pandemic was turbulent.

Key Takeaway

Press releases and news releases still have a role to play, especially in highly-regulated industries. Financial services and investment firms subject to rules such as SEC Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) still hold the newswire release to be the gold standard of acceptable public disclosure; while the SEC ruled that social media was an acceptable form of disclosure in years past, the nature of social network algorithms could potentially imperil that ruling in the years to come. If you have news to distribute that requires public disclosure in a time-tested (and more importantly, court-tested) manner, use a press release.

That said, for anything else, you’re probably better off using some other form of content distribution or influencer outreach rather than a straight press release. With a median of zero clicks for the second year in a row, literally no one sees a majority of press releases, ever. The exception would be those companies that put true, significant effort into a news release with an announcement that’s actually newsworthy; our colleagues at wire services have pointed out that when you have actual news that people would care about, news releases perform as well as other forms of outreach.

And what are we to make of the shocking number of releases that have invalid contact information? That’s a double whammy. In normal years, the public relations industry as a whole has very high churn rates; agencies can churn as much as 50% of staff in a calendar year. In a pandemic? It’s surprising that the invalid contact information number wasn’t higher, given how much employment has changed in 2020.


Trust Insights used Google’s GDELT news service to extract 200,704 news releases published in 2020 in the English language. Releases were filtered to require a minimum of five sentences and had to be publicly accessible. The timeframe of the study is January 1, 2020 to December 11, 2020. The date of extraction is December 11, 2020. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.


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