New Survey Shows Strained PR pro – Journalist Relationship

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CommPRO Editorial Staff

Today, News Direct and PRWeek released survey results on the current state of media outreach to gain better and more timely insights into the PR pro –journalist relationship. Among the key findings, only one out of 10 journalists “always” trust the information contained in press releases — reflecting a deficit of trust that is fundamental to the dynamic between communicators and journalists. This is the first in a series of articles that will delve deeper into the primary challenges that journalists and communicators face and offer solutions on ways to work together more effectively.

The relationship between PR professionals and journalists has endured for more than half a century. From print to digital news formats, a 24/7 news cycle and the ubiquity of social media, the relationship has evolved, yet the fundamentals remain the same.

“Despite the very real challenges that exist in the PR pro – journalist relationship, there’s also common ground, which is why the relationship, when it works best, is symbiotic. Our goal at News Direct is to bridge these two ecosystems to enable both journalists and PR professionals to do their best work,” said Gregg Castano, Founder and CEO, News Direct.

Castano continued, “Survey findings indicate that with the right tools, knowledge and insights, PR pros can help journalists do their jobs more effectively. Working together, they can deliver information and content to audiences that inform, excite and inspire.”

Below are key insights from the survey results:

Avoid pitching mistakes: With the pitch at the core of media relations, it’s crucial that PR pros get it right, yet 89% of journalists report that they miss the mark by not researching the publication before pitching. Among other pitfalls for corporate communicators to avoid are excessive follow-up, providing outdated content and not giving enough lead time on a story.

The power of a pithy headline: A full 94% of communications pros and 91% of journalists rank the press release headline as the most important in capturing audience attention, with media pros specifically seeking a “catchy but informative headline that’s not exaggerating.” Both parties also agree that the introductory paragraph is the second most critical element.

Strengthen the relationship: Nearly 42% of journalists say PR pros do not make their jobs easier, and over 25% say the relationship has regressed over the last five years. One key to improving the dynamic is newswire services, a source both communications and media professionals trust for their legitimacy of content, efficiency and reach.

Multimedia is a must: Comms pros are doing a better job of sharing more multimedia content than they did three years ago, according to 80% of PR pros and nearly 70% of journalists. PR professionals need vendor partners that can help them expand their distribution of this content efficiently. In fact, nearly 60% surveyed say they would benefit from using a newswire to share multimedia assets.

A need for greater value and security: Over 40% of comms pros note, when using a wire service, that they do not have enough targeting options to distribute content to the audiences they need. Further, over 40% report they don’t have a sense of the ROI on their efforts with online outlets, underscoring the need for more discrete measurement tools. Additionally, both PRs (80.4%) and journalists (74.2%) agree that maintaining data security is important during the media outreach process.

The survey was conducted in May 2020 among 200 communications and media professionals in the United States.