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Press release deep dive

This data was originally featured in the November 17, 2021 newsletter found here:

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s look at a public relations standby, press releases. We haven’t looked at press release activity in some time, so let’s see how public relations professionals are using this tool. Using the GDELT database provided by Google, we count the number of press releases tracked by services like Google news over the past 4 years:

Press Releases by Year

Above, 2018 is in dark green, 2019 in light green. The pandemic’s first year, 2020, is in red, and this year is in yellow. While there was a substantial decline in 2019 compared to 2018 for the number of press releases, we see that 2020 really set the floor for press release activities – and 2021 hasn’t exceeded it very much. The use of press releases is at all-time lows.

What do we make of this? Press release usage has been on the decline for years, especially once search engines devalued them for link building purposes. The pandemic obviously impacted not only agencies and brands abilities to publish news – with the decline of news outlets – but also because of reductions in staffing, there were simply fewer people to publish news releases. What’s of note is that releases have not made any kind of meaningful recover through all of 2021; this trend seems likely to hold.

What should you take away from this? News releases still perform the vital purpose of fulfilling required legal disclosures, especially in countries where such disclosures are mandated by law such as SEC Regulation FD in the United States of America. But combined with the decline in news outlets, they may not necessarily perform well; next week, we’ll look at how news releases have performed in the eyes of Google. Stay tuned!

Methodology: Trust Insights used the Google News GDELT Project database to extract 1,582,257 news releases from the overall news database. The timeframe of the data is January 1, 2018 – November 16, 2021. The date of study is November 17, 2021. 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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