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6/5/2006
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Press Releases Are More Popular Than Reported News, Says Study

Also, knowledge workers fail to find what they're looking for in Internet searches 30% of the time.

Internet searches fail 30% of the time, people are spending more time searching for information online, and press releases have surpassed trade journals as the leading source of information for knowledge workers.

This according to a new report from research firm Outsell. The report is based on surveys of 7,000 knowledge workers taken from 2004 to the present.

"The real headliner in this is that the most used content type among knowledge workers for business purposes has switched to press releases," says Outsell VP and analyst Roger Strouse. Until recently, he says, trade journals had occupied the top spot.

InformationWeek is typically considered to be a trade journal. It is owned by United Business Media plc, which also happens to own PR Newswire, a distributor of press releases.

Strouse posits several possible explanations for the rising popularity of press releases. "It may be that press releases are easier for people to get their hands on," he says. "It may be that press releases are shorter and pithier. It may be that they're oftentimes free and come right into an RSS reader."

The other major finding of the study is that search doesn't work very well.

The amount of time knowledge workers spend on information-related tasks increased by 1.1 hours per week, or about 10%, between the two survey periods (September, 2004 to January, 2005, and November, 2005, to February, 2006).

Moreover, the report finds that the failure rate of online searches has reached 30%, up from 28% in late 2004. It suggests that further search engine specialization and topically-oriented portals might help make information easier to find.

"We believe a more reasonable failure rate is in the 10% range, and the industry is missing that mark by a mile," the report says.

Strouse suggests that information is proliferating so quickly that the technology can't keep up. "There simply is more information available and people are using more information to make decisions," he says. "People have to cull through more sources to find the information they need."

Other interesting findings include that the number of bloggers will soon double. Some 5% of respondents said they currently blogged while another 5% said they planned to begin blogging soon. The average respondent claimed to read nine blogs regularly.

The report also notes that Google is the preferred search engine of nearly three-fourths (74%) of respondents.

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