It’s true. We were surprised too. Press releases are the most trusted source of company-generated news, according to a study we did in partnership with GMI Lightspeed of 1,000 Americans ages 18+.
Press releases won by a long shot – 33% of respondents trust them the most, followed by articles authored by the CEO (16%), blog posts by the CEO (4%) and advertisements (3%).
The trust factor varies by age. Younger audiences trust blog posts a bit more (11% of 18-34 vs. 0% of 55 or older) and articles by the CEO (23% of those 18-34 vs. 9% of those 55 and older) more than older audiences. They also put more trust in company-generated news overall – about 30-32% of those 18 to 34 do not trust any source of company-generated news. Older audiences are more skeptical.
What does this mean? Press releases, while less common these days for technology startups in particular, are still important PR tools (and they are required public disclosure vehicles for public companies). Over time though, they have become more marketing brochure than news vehicle and this evolution has lessened their impact. Press releases were designed to be news articles that could be printed in a newspaper, and they have veered a long way from that original purpose. For more, see our post, 9 Tips for Retooling the Press Release to its Intended Audience: The Press. We believe this important shift in tone and content will only continue.
We asked questions about lots of other topics – from Buzzfeed, to Facebook, email versus social media and preferred news outlets. You can view the full results in our ebook, Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News.