I spent decades in newspaper journalism, and in my experience, the vast majority of all press releases are trashed. In the pre-internet days, we’d receive by mail easily a hundred releases a day. When fax machines came in, it became much cheaper to spam every newspaper in the country, and we’d get even more. The newsroom fax machine would spit out letters from readers, official government releases, police reports (cops were happy to do this if it kept away from the cop shop, and it made our job easier), crank letters, scam faxes selling printer ink and paper, and press releases.
Each department tasked someone to go through the stack to pull out their needed faxes. The rest were trashed.
PR World’s belated response: press releases that don’t look like press releases. Once they figured out how to get this stuff on television — it looks like a local news clip, but it isn’t — it was just a matter of time before the newspapers themselves were similarly infected. Every now and then, the Oklahoman will devote as much as half a page, a hefty fraction of the daily news hole, to something called BrandInsight, which turns out to be a press release written like a news story. The times are sufficiently dire that
the paper actually admits what’s going on:
BrandInsight provides a place for local organizations and companies to connect directly with the NewsOK audience and The Oklahoman readers by publishing sponsored native advertising articles of interest on the NewsOK digital platforms and to participate in the resulting conversation. BrandInsight content may be produced by the organizations or our BrandInsight content studio.
And after all, that’s what it’s all about: content. Doesn’t matter where it comes from anymore.