Report: Journalists are ditching the press release

A recent survey of reporters revealed that many are ignoring press releases. How can you capture their attention? Turn to social media, consider data and build relationships.

The press release isn’t dead, but its traditional format is on life support.

Muck Rack and Zeno Group surveyed more than 500 journalists around the world and found that roughly half of journalists around the world (53 percent in the United States and 41 percent outside the U.S.) don’t use press releases to find new story ideas.

The survey also revealed that only 3 percent of journalists globally said that they heavily rely on them.

Sending press releases isn’t entirely a fruitless activity: Twenty-nine percent of U.S.-based reporters and 36 percent of non-U.S. based reporters said they “somewhat” rely on press releases, and 16 percent of journalists globally use press releases but would prefer a different format.

So, how can you pivot from the traditional press release?

Nearly half of reporters (49 percent) said they’d more likely pay attention to a press release if it contained an infographic, and 13 percent said they’d pay attention if a video was featured in a release.

 

Thirty-five percent said nothing PR pros do will make them interested in releases—so you might want to flex your social media muscles and get your storytelling juices flowing. Short, snappy pitches with an enticing narrative sent through email or Twitter will probably gain more attention.

PR pros and reporters work together—but aren’t partners

Along with altering (or abandoning) your press release, don’t forget the importance of relationships with reporters.

Roughly half of journalists (52 percent in the U.S. and 45 percent outside the U.S.) said they consider relationships with PR pros and agencies “mutually beneficial, but not quite a partnership.” Though only 22 percent of reporters globally think of PR pros as “a necessary evil,” far less (4 percent) overall consider them partners.

Social media is important, but not perfect

When it comes to boosting your media relations efforts—and endearing journalists—look no further than social media. Along with using digital platforms to source news, many reporters consider how well their stories are going to be received online.

Sixty-three percent of journalists in the U.S.—and 68 percent outside the U.S.—track the number of times their stories are shared through social media platforms, and more than 41 percent said they consider a story’s potential for social media sharing when considering if they should write about it.

For reporters, social media is also a powerful way to source breaking news stories. More than one-third of journalists (34 percent) turn to social media platforms as their first news source, and 37 percent of journalists said they expect to spend more time on Twitter and Instagram this year. Twenty-seven percent of reporters said that Twitter is their primary news source.

However, not all platforms are golden.

Though a quarter of journalists said they aim to spend more time looking at news on LinkedIn (26 percent) and YouTube (25 percent), 16 percent said they will probably spend less time looking at LinkedIn compared to last year. Fifteen percent of reporters said they aim to spend less time on Twitter, and 44 percent said they will spend less time on Facebook.

Part of the reason for journalists turning away from social media channels is changing algorithms: The majority (70 percent) said that the way Facebook and Twitter rank news sources isn’t helpful to their work.

Data rules—mostly

Measurement is an increasing focus for publications—and the journalists they employ. Though many communicators are embracing metrics, the role of data and analytics isn’t something that reporters have completely figured out yet.

More than half of the U.S. reporters surveyed (52 percent) said they use analytics to track how well their stories perform online. Forty-three percent of journalists outside the U.S. agreed. The majority (72 percent) said that measurement has affected their jobs.

However, only 35 percent of reporters said that data and analytics help them to improve the work they do, and only 30 percent of reporters in the U.S. (and 35 percent outside of the U.S.) said that metrics “increasingly influence” the stories that they cover.

Struggling with data’s role is a communications trial to which many PR pros can relate.

Use it to your advantage and include new or interesting statistics and data in your pitches. Don’t use old data or analytics that have already been widely used. Instead, sprinkle your pitch with numbers that grab journalists’ attention and clearly show why a story is important to cover.

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