Journalists Survey Part 2

What’s the biggest concern that journalists have about materials they receive from corporate communications and public relations professionals? According to the new Bulldog Reporter/Cision Journalists Survey on Media Relations Practices, it’s that the information is written like advertising, not journalism.

Following closely behind is the complaint that the material is not relevant to their work.

In addition, half of responding journalists complained that e-mails from communications professionals don’t highlight why readers would care about the subject.

While nearly 70% of journalists surveyed rated PR and corporate communications professionals as substantially or extremely professional, when it comes to understanding their media outlets, 53% said communications professionals have only “some understanding.” Ouch.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

Journalists Survey Has Good and Bad News for PR

There’s good news and bad news in a new media relations practices survey of more than 1,700 journalists and editors.

First, the good news: More than 90% of respondents say they rely on public relations for some of their story ideas.

The bad news: Nearly 60% say the relevance of the materials they receive comes up short, citing it as their top problem with PR.

The survey, which was sponsored by Bulldog Reporter
and Cision, contains some interesting information. Here’s a sample:

• Some 45% of journalists report that the communications professionals they work with don’t understand which subjects they cover.
• Nearly 27% say communications professionals don’t understand the subjects they are pitching.
• More than 30% report they cannot find information they need on corporate websites, and nearly 32% specifically say they can’t find the name and/or telephone number of a communications professional on the corporate website.

While these are embarrassing stats for PR professionals, they’re also fairly easy to correct. Learn as much as possible about a specific subject before contacting the reporter covering it, educate yourself on the subject you want to pitch, and then make it easy for reporters to contact you.

If you’ve ever had difficulty finding your way around a city and wondered why there wasn’t better signage, you’ll get an idea of the frustration a busy journalist experiences when trying to find what he or she needs on your ad agency’s or client’s website.

Take a few minutes to visit your site as if you’ve never been there before – how easy is it to find your way around? Then ask some other people outside your company to do the same thing. You may find your website needs a bit of work to make it more journalist friendly. Not a big deal to fix, but the payoff could be great.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

Ad Agencies Need to Develop Relationships with News Media

One of the best ways to get mentioned regularly in news stories is to become a trusted source for reporters. The way to begin that process is to develop relationships with key journalists so they know you are someone they can trust to provide a knowledgeable response or suggest other contacts for them.

Reporters are busy people, and making their jobs easier will win you points every time.

When I start working with a client in a new industry, one of the first things I do is identify the reporters who cover that industry. I’ve found it helpful to make an introductory phone call (making sure the reporter is not on deadline) and ask what types of stories are of particular interest. Sometimes, I even ask for the reporter’s advice on where to learn more about the industry and the best way to work with him or her.

Like everyone else, reporters enjoy talking about their work and what interests them, yet few people take time to ask these types of questions before making a pitch.

It’s also a good idea to write a brief note from time to time to the reporter when you see a story he or she has done in your area of interest. It may even be appropriate to offer ideas for a follow-up story or make the reporter aware of helpful resources.

By focusing on reporters’ needs rather than yours, you’ll build stronger relationships and improve your changes for positive media coverage.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.