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Posted on 08.26.2014

No Surprises Here: Journalists Still Value Newsworthiness Most

Implementing an effective media relations strategy requires understanding the needs and preferences of professional journalists, and staying abreast of how those needs and preferences are evolving. So I was interested to read the results of Business Wire’s 2014 Media Survey, which queried 300 North American journalists to determine the types of information and assets they need to effectively cover a story.

While more than 300 members of the media participated in the survey, 50.4% of respondents identified themselves as having been a member of the media for 25 years or longer, and 51.1% identified themselves as an editor or editorial staff member. That compared to just 4% who identified themselves as a blogger, and only 8.1% who identified themselves as having been a member of the media for five years or fewer.

So do the results skew more towards experienced, professional journalists? Likely so. Is that bad? Not yet, but with the ever-growing number of bloggers and citizen journalists, it will be interesting to compare this year’s results to those Business Wire may publish just five or 10 years from now.

But for now, let’s look at the insights this year’s survey provide to help communications professionals and organizations more effectively execute their media relations strategies.

The press release is still a valid – and valued – tool 

  • Nearly 90% of responding journalists said they had used a press release within the last week with most reporters (62%) having used one in the past 24 hours at the time they were surveyed. 
  • The most highly sought information in a release includes breaking news (77%), supporting facts (70%), interesting story angles (66%), quotable sources (52%), company background (50%) and trending industry topics (49%).

Read more about the study’s findings on the value of press releases in this recent blog by Lovell’s Robin Embry.

Multimedia elements help, but only if it’s really news 

  • Almost a third of today’s journalists (31%) want communications professionals to provide supporting multimedia elements – logos, images, audio files or video files – with the press release and more than half (54%) are more likely to review a press release that includes multimedia than one that does not.
  • In regard to journalists’ preferences for multimedia elements, photographs lead the way at 73% followed by graphics (43%), infographics (32%) and video (27%) also favored. Business Wire reports that several journalists emphasized the fact that more importantly, the news must be relevant whether it contains multimedia or not.

Social media pitch? No, thank you. 

  • It’s important to communicate with journalists in the manner they most prefer, and of journalists surveyed by Business Wire, email alerts (64%) and press releases (28%) are still the top two preferred methods by media for receiving news. Take note that – overwhelmingly – reporters rated social networks as their least favorite way to be pitched a story idea with Facebook least favored (90%), followed by Google+ (88%), Twitter (83%) and LinkedIn (75%). 
  • Despite not wanting to receive pitches via social media, social networks are used as a research tool by 74% of journalists surveyed with approximately one-quarter (26%) using Twitter and 23% using LinkedIn.

Time to beef up your organization’s online newsroom  

  • After an organizations main website (92%), the online newsroom is the foremost destination (77%) for journalists when they need to research an organization. And despite the growth of mobile, media primarily access online newsrooms from desktop computers (96%). 
  • The most sought-after content in the online newsroom is press releases (88%), followed by media relations contact information (80%) following closely behind. Journalists prefer press releases in an HTML/text format (55%) over a PDF format (9%). Fact sheets (69%), images (63%), press kits (53%) and executive biographies (52%) round out the most frequently sought content.

How journalistic quality is judged has definitely changed 

  • 52.6% of journalists surveyed said the number of page views is used to evaluate their stories and 41.6 percent said the level of social media activity (likes, tweets, sharing, email, etc.) on the story is used in its evaluation.

Would a survey of 300 writers with no more than 10 years of experience yield a different result? Likely so. But as long as we have traditional newsrooms left, the elder statesmen (and women) of the profession are likely – or hopefully – running them. So keep the results of Business Wire’s latest survey in mind and we’ll tune in same time, same place next year to monitor how media preferences evolve.


Dana Coleman is a Vice President at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Dana’s blogs here. Connect with Dana at Dana@lovell.com or @lovelldc


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