Reporters and editors still value press releases, but they want releases that are succinct, direct and stripped of bells and whistles, according to a survey from Chicago-based public relations firm Greentarget. Journalists want contact information, pertinent details, a clear angle and authentic quotes and are most likely to cite local police departments as organizations that follows these guidelines consistently.

Among the other key findings:
• More than a third of the journalists get story ideas from press releases. And 88 percent say they find value in those releases.
• Journalists are still looking to press releases for quotes but want them to be genuine and substantive.
• Overall, journalists today still view press releases as valuable sources of information and story ideas.  They want that information packaged more efficiently.
• Nearly 70 percent of the journalists surveyed spend less than a minute reading new press releases. That’s why they want releases they can read in a glance. An effective release, should quickly tell them who is involved, what is new, why it matters and how to reach the principal spokespeople.
• 53 percent of the journalists said they’d find it helpful if the key facts in a release were presented in a bulleted format.

According to Aaron Schoenherr, founding partner of Greentarget: “The notion that press releases should be written as if they are going to appear somewhere word-for-word has always struck us as strange and yet most releases are still written this way.  The demands and pressure facing journalists today have changed and, as much as I’m comforted by the tried and true inverted pyramid style of press releases, we should challenge ourselves as a profession to evolve as well.”

More highlights:
• 45 percent of our survey respondents get 50 or more releases per week — and 21 percent of the group say they get at least 100 a week.
• 79 percent of journalists said the subject line impacts their interest in reading a press release.
• Almost three-quarters of journalists we surveyed use Twitter as part of their daily work. And 46 percent said they’d be open to getting press releases over the social network, if releases were adapted appropriately.
• 44 percent of respondents prefer to get press releases in the morning – probably because they are more likely to be on deadline in the afternoon. But 48 percent said time of day doesn’t matter. 
• A full 69 percent of journalists spend on average less than a minute reading press releases. Another 30 percent spend 1 to 5 minutes.
• 35 percent said the boilerplate language at the bottom, 26 percent said the quotes and 19 percent said the lead. Those top three categories comprise 80 percent of the group.
• Journalists’ biggest pet peeves are releases that don’t pertain to their beats or aren’t relevant to the audiences they serve. The third- and fourth-most common complaints are that releases are poorly written and too long.