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In keeping with the recent spate of gloom-and-doom forecasts for both print media and old-school PR practitioners, only 49% of today’s professional communicators say they think press releases are “as useful as ever,” according to recent poll of corporate communicators conducted by Ragan Communications and PollStream.

The poll also found that another 33% of the the 401 respondents see press releases as “a necessary evil that won’t go away soon,” in large part because of disclosure rules for public companies set forth by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Releases Lose out to Social Media

One of the main reasons for the decline of the press release is the recent explosion of the use of social media in public relations and the perception that releases are less relevant in those venues. A majority (64%) of respondents who issue releases say they target them most often to print outlets, while 23% send them to online news and financial sites.

The poll also found that many PR pros often forego writing a release unless it’s for a specific reason or if they aren’t confident they can reach their audience any other way.

Nearly half (45%) don’t see releases as relevant as they once were because of the growth of social media and the ability to target reporters and editors in more personalized, direct ways. At the same time nearly one-fourth each blame the waning interest in the press releases on the demand for a more trustworthy and/or engaging information source (23%) and the decline of the newspaper and magazine industry (24%).

Are Releases Dying?

In an article entitled “Don’t trash press releases yet,” Ragan.com’s Lindsey Miller sheds light on why some communicators in the survey chalk the release’s demise to shrinking news sources. “As news sources become more obviously biased and decrease in size and content, publics are turning to other sources of information,” she quoted one respondent as saying, adding that another blamed companies themselves for the declining quality of the releases. “Companies have become too self-protecting in their releases. Everything has been tossed into the legal CYA blender, and what comes back is bland and over-processed.”

Miller noted that corporate communicators are increasingly using social media as a way to get around “canned” information, and to personalize, target and reach reporters who are increasing busy with more beats and less likely to read the proliferation of releases that cross their desks everyday.

About the survey: The survey is part of the POLL-arized series of polls about corporate communication that is the result of a partnership between Pollstream and with Ragan.com.

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