What Journalists Need from PR People

 

Last week 150 PR practitioners gathered in Palm Springs at the PRSA Western District conference.  One of the keynote panels was about the media and their needs in today’s Web 2.0 world.  After hearing for years that the press release is dead, it was refreshing to hear them say it most certainly is not dead – in fact reporters need information from us more than ever.

Newsroom are under tremendous pressure today. In a segment about the sale of Newsweek on Marketplace on NPR yesterday Kai Ryssdal said “Papers and magazines that have been around for decades are barely hanging on. A lot of them aren’t hanging on at all.”  

When asked if he thought Newsweek would still be sold at newstands in 10 years time, Porter Bibb, who specializes in capital financing of media, entertainment, and technology ventures said:  “I don’t think you’re going to find newsstands at airports or anywhere else in 10 years. Print is really on its last legs.”

The media panel at the PRSA conference made it clear that they are expected to provide muh more than just a print story today.  Every newspaper and magazine has a website and that website has a voracious appetite for content.

In Q1 of 2009 newspaper websites saw a 10.5% jump in traffic. (Neilsen)  “Digital success has become a critical component of newspapers’ transformation,” said John Sturm, president and CEO of the NAA.

Q1 of 2010 shows an even bigger jump  Newspaper companies drew unprecedented 74.4 million unique visitors per month — more than one-third of all Internet users, according to a custom analysis provided by Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America.

A February 2010 survey from comScore for the NAA (Site Matters: The Value of Local Newspaper Web Sites) found that newspaper Web sites continue to be the most used and valued destination for consumers seeking credible and trustworthy local content and advertising online.

Small wonder then that the media outlets are pushing their journalists to provide content for their websites.

Another report from comScore show that more people around the world get their news online from Google News than from CNN or the news properties of the New York Times.  In December 09 Google News attracted 100 million unique visitors worldwide, making it a larger news site than CNN (66 million) or the combined properties of the New York Times (92 million).   And top of the news list is Yahoo News, with 138 million unique visitors worldwide.

How does this affect us as PR people?  The traditional press release format was developed over 100 years ago to service print journalists. They’re not looking for those same things any more.  Print is on its last legs. The web is where people go to get news.   Figure out what the journalists you work with really want.  Help them to do their job. The panelists at PRSA WDC said they need PR people now more than ever.  But they need much more than just a traditional press release.

They need the facts supported by reseach and background information. They need images,  graphics and video. They need quotes from your top execs, analysts  or other experts. And they need to be able to find it easily and access it easily.  It must be on your website in a format they can  take and use right away – even if it is midnight and you’re not available.  

Media Relations in 2010 

  • 98% of journalists start a story by doing a search in Google.  Is your news search optimized?
  • Can they easily find your newsroom on your website? Don’t make them register.
  • Do you add multimedia to your releaess?
  • Is the news in your newsroom in a format that makes it easy for journalists to use it?  No PDFs. Embed codes added to images and video? Images and video web-ready and search optimized?
  • Does it have links to all your social media content?
  • Is your news available in a feed?

Our job as PR people is to service the journalists – give them what they need and you’ll get better coverage. 

Social media newsrooms that offer all these features are beginning to appear on larger company websites. As the rush to the web to get news and information continues, don’t lag behind.  Make your company’s news available to the media in the format that gets you the best results.

Need help? I’ll be in NYC for the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit at the end of June.  I’m leading the a workshop on social media and PR strategies.

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