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Veteran journalist Peter Bartram has just written a book entitled "Writing The Perfect Press Release."

As part of his research, he interviewed 89 journalists and discovered the following – these journalists received around 19,100 press releases per week or 993,200 per year.

And surprise, surprise, virtually none of these releases were relevant or contained a story worth the journalists attention.

Lets consider the economic cost of this. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that every press release has the following costs associated with it:

– researching and writing
– time spent by client approving
– distribution

Clearly not all releases will involve the same amount of time or effort – and distribution could be to a few names or many thousands. But again, for argument’s sake, let’s say on average that every press release has a total cost associated with it of around £1K, taking all the above elements into account (I haven’t factored in "follow up" – I know best practice says, don’t do it, but we all know it does happen inn many cases – which would mean adding more to the cost of every release).

So, based on Peter Bartram’s figures, there is an average of £993m spent on press releases every year to these 89 journalists – most of which don’t work. Even if you made the average cost per release much lower, it still comes out as a lot of wasted cash.

Let’s go further – if we assume there are around 10,000 targetable journalists in the UK – based on the above, then even with very low assumptions on the cost of press release production and distribution, the wastage element in press releases in the UK every year is very high.

As mentioned here before, there is an argument for viewing the press release as a direct to end user communication tool in its own right – which must surely carry some weight – because it would seem that the press release in its current form is not exactly the most efficient tool in the PR armoury.

2 Responses to “Does it really cost nearly £1bn per annum to send press releases to 89 journalists?”

  1. Andrew Smith

    Stuart – I was thinking in terms of the the total economic cost of all people involved in the process – eg the cost of the time of customers, say. But it is not inconceivable that it will cost at best £100 – 200 just to write it – if you distribute via PR Newswire, that’s another few hundred quid. And as I pointed out even if it were only £50 av. total cost per release (and I do think that is on the low side), that’s still a huge amount of money.


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