Posts Tagged ‘backgrounders’


Is Digital Media Changing PR’s Role in News-Gathering?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
Flickr Image: Yago.com

Flickr Image: yago1.com

The Oriella PR Network issued their 2010 Digital Journalism Study recently. The survey consisted of 770 journalists across 15 countries, and is used to find out how digital media has changed the nature of news-gathering. In reviewing this study, I naturally paid the most attention to those items that directly affect public relations and media relations practitioners. 

For example, according to the report, “interest in traditional news content remains healthy.”  Results showed:

  • 75 percent of journalists surveyed indicated they like to receive emailed press releases, and
  • 52 percent want to receive still photography.

Interestingly, demand for social media news releases (SMNRs), chosen by 19 percent of journalists in 2008’s survey, and 15 percent in 2009, has leveled off at 16 percent in 2010.  

  • Video content has fallen to 27.5 percent from 35 percent.
  • Audio / podcasts have fallen to 15 percent from 19 percent.

The report notes it is possible that these declines may be due to the fact that publications have the capabilities to produce their own multi-media content now. Previously they were more reliant on content from third parties.

Considering the international reach of this survey, I was curious if our own U.S.-based media followed suit. I set-up a (very un-scientific) three-question survey on PollDaddy and asked my Twitter and LinkedIn journalist connections to respond. There were only a handful of responses, but the poll answered my question.

  • 85 percent of journalists who responded to my survey indicated they prefer to be contacted via email. 
  • 44 percent said it was okay to contact via Twitter, but keep in mind that I posted the survey on Twitter and LinkedIn so the journos that responded are those that are on social networking sites – be wary of assuming this is true across the board.
  • 67 percent want to receive hi-res photos with press releases.
  • 55 percent would like to see supporting documents (such as backgrounders, bios, fact sheets, etc.) and/or attributable quotes. 

When I asked for additional comments, one respondent replied, “I wish press releases had original quotes instead of marketing-speak.”  Another responded, “Short, sweet and to the point. Make it catchy. Make it actually newsworthy. Make it interesting. And don’t send something that’s happening that day. Timing is EVERYTHING.”

Jessica Pupillo, freelance writer and editorial director for St. Louis Sprout & About, opined: “Put the news release headline in the subject line of an e-mail. Also put the text of the release in the body of the e-mail, and ALWAYS include copies of the release and access to photos on your online press room. Include a phone number where you can be reached during reasonable hours (7 a.m. to 9 p.m.). If you don’t answer your phone when I call, I may just skip your news.”

The author of the Digital Journalism Study results report surmised, “Time pressures remain – it is down [sic] to the PR community to facilitate access to relevant stories so they can turn it into a compelling story as efficiently as possible.” And, goes so far as to state, “While the communications landscape has become increasingly complex, journalists continue to rely on PR professionals to address the basics of news gathering in the content they produce. Communicators that overlook this essential need do so at their peril.”

If you’re a media professional, do you agree with the survey findings published in the Digital Journalism study or from my poll? What do you wish public relations professionals would do better? If you’re in PR or media relations, how are you tailoring your strategy to meet the changing needs of journalists? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Media Relations 2.0: What Journalists Really Want from PR

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Last week, I attended a webinar by Sally Falkow, APR, and Rebecca Lieb, on how Internet technology and social networking affects news media and as a result, the public relations and media relations practitioner.

For those of you who attended last year’s PRSA International conference and heard Arianna Huffington open the keynote address with, “The Newspress release is dead…” or those who read Tom Forenski’s rant a few years ago, “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!,” may be surprised to learn the press release, like traditional media, is NOT dead.  Falkow told us the news has changed, but journalists still want information.  The way that journalists work is evolving so we need to provide this information in different ways.

Lieb quoted some statistics on how journalists work today:

  • 91 percent of journalists search Google to do their job (“expert” is a common search term)
  • 89 percent use blogs
  • 64 percent are using social networks

In addition, Lieb went on to say that over 75 percent of reporters view blogs as helpful in providing story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue. And, almost half of reporters say they are “lurkers” on social networking sites.

So, what do journalists really want and need from PR?  

  • They want the news in easy-to-identify, digestible sections.
  • They are looking for images, quotes, video, backgrounders, fact sheets.
  • Tag the information so it’s easily found. 
  • Give them the full embed code for multimedia.
  • Put your news in a feed.
  • Make it available on social sites.
  • Aggregate your news/social content in one place.

She says, “Deconstruct the press release into special sections and tag the information. By using news tags, a newspaper or news site could pull together larger numbers of news stories and the PR industry would be helping news publishers to gather the facts and present them in a near-publishable format.”

Bottom line: if you aren’t telling your story, then someone’s telling it for you. If the media can’t find the information they need from you, they will find it elsewhere – and you may not like what they find!  

The media in general is expected to provide more than just a print story, or just a video clip – it’s also on the web. What is your organization doing to feed the media’s hunger for content? 

Want more tips and best practices for working with the media and giving journalists what they want and need? Visit the BurrellesLuce Resource Center which provides FREE white papers, tip sheets, and more. And be sure to sign-up for this month’s newsletter, “When Press Releases Go Bad” or view an archive of last month’s newsletter, “Staying Ahead of the Media Relations Curve.