As a former print journalist, I remember two of my biggest pet peeves were receiving information from public relations professionals that was not appropriate for our audience and submitted way past our publication deadline. These annoyances soon became the driving force behind my transition from journalism into public relations. Now that I’m working on the other side, I realize just how challenging it can be to obtain media coverage. Often times securing media coverage for our cause-related issues and campaigns can be just plain difficult. Deciphering how journalists prefer to receive information in an age of social media and instant access just became a bit easier.
This week Bulldog Reporter and TEKGroup International released the 2010 Journalist Survey on Media Relations Practices. The survey was designed to help communicators understand media relations from the horses’ mouth. The survey, conducted this past October using SurveyMonkey.com, received responses from 1,404 journalists. Out of the 1,400 journalists surveyed, 46 percent were editors or editorial staff and 35.6 percent were reporters, writers, columnists or freelance journalists.
Here are three important takeaways from the survey:
Keep online news rooms and corporate websites up-to-date and user-friendly
According to the report, 97 percent of journalist surveyed use online newsrooms and corporate websites as a source of information. Over 80 percent report visiting a corporate website or online newsroom at least once per month. However, 39 percent, an increase from last year, agreed that when they visit these organization websites, it’s difficult to find the information they need. Information such as the organizations’ media representatives, contact information and press materials were cited as key information that was hard to find. Online newsrooms and corporate websites count!
Research media outlets before pitching
About 60 percent of the journalists surveyed fully agree that PR professionals do not understand which subjects journalists or their media cover. Nearly half of journalists or 46.5 percent generally believe PR people interrupt their work flow and waste their time with phone calls. Understanding the media outlet you’re pitching and their preferred method for contact is critical. The survey shows the majority of journalists prefer to receive information about corporate, not-for-profit and government news by e-mail.
Journalists really are using social media as a source for stories
When asked how often they use social media as a source of story ideas or to research stories, 37.8 percent of respondents said they use Facebook once a week or more frequently and 39 percent of bloggers and journalists working on websites use Twitter daily in their work. Facebook is used the most out of all the social networks, followed by Twitter. Surprisingly the survey shows that blogs are losing their popularity among journalists. A small percentage of journalists reported using blogs to keep up with their beats than in the past – 73.4 percent compared to 75.5 percent last year.
I enjoy keeping up with the latest surveys, especially when it comes to best pratices for media relations. Surveys such as this can serve as a tool to measure our own media relations practices to ensure they are effective in getting our messages into the hands of the right person.