Report: Less than a third of financial reporters trust press releases

A new survey sheds light on journalists’ preferences, which include more social media—and a continuing distrust of PR professionals.

Press releases not trusted

A recent Muck Rack survey of financial journalists offers PR pros a peek into behaviors and preferences that can affect media relations success.

The information can be helpful to communicators from several types of organizations, considering that the most important topics for financial reporters in 2019 include cybersecurity (more than 57 percent) and financial technology (nearly 42 percent).

Additional topics reporters think will dominate next year’s conversations are tax reform (nearly 36 percent) artificial intelligence (more than 33 percent), cryptocurrency and blockchain (30 percent) and banking regulations (nearly 27 percent).

PR sources aren’t highly trusted

As source credibility continues loom large, especially as communicators battle fake news, financial journalists won’t hold your press release or PR statements in high regard.

Most financial journalists (85 percent) say that print newspapers are the most trusted source of industry news, followed by online newspapers (more than 83 percent) and executives of financial companies (nearly 57 percent).

Less than a third of journalists say press releases are the most trustworthy source of financial news, and just over 13 percent say they trust PR agencies as a source, meaning communicators have an uphill battle to get ahead of the news cycle by reaching a reporter—which is especially important in times of crises.

Print publications carry the most credibility for financial reporters, but in today’s increasingly fast news cycle, the majority of reporters (60 percent) turn to digital news magazines and online newspapers to catch up with current events—and 25 percent check Twitter first.

Print newspapers and magazines come in much lower: Under seven percent of reporters employ them as their first news source, followed by broadcast or cable news (roughly three percent).

Social media use on the rise

Social media is becoming a more integrated part of journalists’ lives.

Though under two percent of reporters use social media platforms outside of Twitter as their first news source, many of them search across various digital feeds, and many are planning to spend more time there.

More than 39 percent of reporters said they plan to spend more time on Twitter, followed by more than 38 percent who say LinkedIn will take up more of their time online. Thirty-five percent say they plan to spend more time on Instagram, nearly 27 percent will give YouTube more attention, and more than 18 percent say they’ll spend more time on Reddit.

Half of reporters say they’ll spend less time on Facebook—no doubt due to the company’s struggle with banishing fake news and its scramble following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, both of which have severely damaged the platform’s reputation as a news source.

Pitching and source tips to consider

Sixty percent of financial reporters reject pitches that aren’t personalized, and more than 23 percent say they might consider trashing them—meaning your next pitch to a reporter in the finance industry better be tailored to him/her and his/her publication.

Though the majority of reporters are active on social media, only 19 percent want you to pitch them using an online platform, followed by 25 percent who don’t care if a pitch comes through social media or other means.

Nearly 56 percent said they don’t want to receive a pitch through social media, however, highlighting the importance of researching the reporter’s preferences before pitching him or her.

Many PR pros can find media relations success by supplying a story source, but not all sources are created equal.

Financial journalists prefer academic subject matter experts (nearly 92 percent) and industry executives (more than 89 percent) rather than an organization’s in-house PR team (nearly 53 percent) or PR agency pros (nearly 33 percent).

So, when you’re looking to insert your client or organization into a current news story or trend piece with a quote or insight, offer a subject matter expert or your chief executive—but provide them with media training first.

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