Recycled Friday: Is £2.5 billion really spent on press releases in the UK?


I was inspired by the following comment from @adcontrarian in his latest blog post:

Because I am a lazy bastard and the thought of writing five posts a week is a constant source of terror, I have decided to introduce a new policy around here. From now on, on Fridays,  I’m going to recycle old posts that I like and that are still relevant. Today is our first Recycled Friday.

What a great idea. Having nearly 600 posts over 7 years gives me a good back catalogue to plunder.

Without further ado, here is a post I wrote five years ago – has much changed? You be the judge.

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New survey conducted by Benchmark Research on behalf of Glide Technologies has thrown up some interesting, if not entirely unsurprising, results about the PR industry in the UK today.

The full report is here:

Glide PR survey

However, the one item that caught my eye was the calculation that  £2.5bn is spent on press releases in the UK. This based on the survey finding that 39pc of PR professionals time is spent on creating, distributing, and following up on press releases – and the estimated total size of the UK PR industry at £6.5bn. Couple that with only 32% of releases received by the media being of genuine interest, then I calculate that means £1.7bn is being wasted on irrelevant press releases.

Although I’d take this calculation with a pinch of salt, it would be fair to say that an awful lot of money is still being spent (and wasted) on the humble press release.

The survey also highlighted a clear discrepancy between journalists desire to be contacted by email and PRs who still overwhelmingly use the phone.

I know the reasons for both sides views. Journalists have been jaundiced by too many wasteful phone calls along the lines of “did you get my press release”, or are you attending exhibition X (see Phil Muncaster of IT Week vent his spleen re: the pre-InfoSec deluge of calls asking him whether he was going – Muncaster InfoSec rant )

On the other side, PRs often feel that they will get more “attention” by actually talking to the journalist. Though of course that still means you need a good enough story to give them.

My take on the survey as a whole is that is shows the same old values still apply to PR in terms of media relations – journalists will give the time of day to a trusted source – but even that doesn’t guarantee they will use a story. Perhaps some of that wasted £1.7bn could be spent on training PR professionals to get better at becoming trusted information sources.

Other findings below:

81% of Journalists on a desert island opt for laptop over a phone

Email remains the most popular delivery format for journalists. Fax, post, newswire, PDA and SMS all decline. RSS and IM emerge.

76% of journalists more likely to use press communication with photos etc.

89% of journalists will visit an organisation’s website most of the time when writing about them

Journalist Complaints

Poor use of email (e.g. sending large attachments) accounts for the two greatest online deterrents to journalists

Only 32% of releases received by the media are of genuine interest

73% of journalists think an organisation is ‘not media friendly’ if its online press information is poor. 60% think they’re ‘lazy’, 50% that they’re ‘incompetent’.

Research conducted by Benchmark Research.

Iain M. Banks, Charles Stross and Andrew Bruce Smith: One Magazine


One Magazine - Issue 3

The latest issue of the Edinburgh-based literary and culture magazine One is now out. Excellent interview by Andrew J. Wilson with Iain M. Banks. And SF author (and one time Computer Shopper columnist and Linux guru) Charles Stross has a good piece on his recent trip to Japan:

“They’ve got our future, damn it! It’s not the shiny future of jet packs and food pills—oh no, that’s not what Japan is about—nevertheless, they’ve got it and they’re living in it.”

(Charles’ latest novel, Halting State, is now out – and seems to be generating some good reviews).

And before I forget, there are a couple articles by me in there too: Orwell’s Sound Of Silence and Orwell and the Scots. As ever, writing these features maintains my enduring respect for professional journalists who have to do this kind of thing day in, day out.

Andrew J. Wilson in town


My very old chum (best man) Mr A.J Wilson is down in London for a few days. Good to see him again – and find out how recent fatherhood is treating him.

He is deep in the throes of anthology editing and gearing up for WorldCon in Glasgow.

For those interested, more info below.

http://www.writers-bloc.org.uk/comrades/ajw/

SmokeAndrew J. Wilson was born in Aberdeen in 1963. After studying English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, he went into publishing, and currently works as a freelance editor and writer. He is the science fiction, fantasy and horror reviewer for The Scotsman.

Andrew has published short stories in magazines and anthologies in Britain and the United States, including DAW Books Years Best Horror Stories, Markings, Fear and Scottish Book Collector, and he has also read his work on BBC Radio Scotland. His plays The Terminal Zone and The Black Ambulance Gang have both been performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the latter on a moving bus several years before Speed was shown in the cinemas!

He has also published journalism and criticism in a number of markets, including Scotland on Sunday, Dreamwatch, Caledonia and Metro. He has also appeared on television and radio as a commentator, and regularly chairs events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Recent stories have appeared in Gathering the Bones, an international anthology published by Harper Collins in Australia and Tor in the USA, and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. Forthcoming work will appear in H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sailing on Strange Seas, a tribute anthology to William Hope Hodgson.

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