This is an archived blog from when I ran Conscious Public Relations Inc. from 2008-2018. Excuse the potential outdated-ness!

Last week, I downloaded a survey (conducted by Cision and Bulldog Reporter) that was done with nearly 1800 journalists this year and what they thought of the current media relations practices done by Communications and Public Relations professionals. Though the survey was done on Americans, the results are still surprising and since Canada’s system isn’t so different, I’ll assume that the stats might be quite similar here.

The survey was done via to editors (49%) and reporters or writers (26%). It’s quite lengthy to report ALL of the stats & observations, but I will repeat some of the ones I thought were worthy of blogging on.

Working conditions:
– 54% reported that editorial staff size decreased in the last year.
– Workload increased in the last year overall, but 26% reported no change in workload.
– 52% of journalists use social media to promote their work, with Facebook being #1 at 76.6% and Twitter a close second at 71.7%.

Media Relations Practices:
60% said the material received from PR people is written like advertising, not journalism. Definitely something we all need to improve on, apparently.
– 59.4% said the material received isn’t relevant to their work nor highlights why readers would care about the subject.
– 45% of journalists said that communications pros don’t understand which subjects they cover; similarly 27% of them said we don’t understand the subjects we’re pitching.
– 32% say they can’t find the name or # of the communications professional on the corporate website.
– 30% say they can’t find the info they need on a corporate website. (Sad!)
– 27% say they receive ideas from PR pros once per month or more, and 30% say even more frequently; every 2 weeks or more. Unless it’s a big corporation that affects mass readers, I’d try to stick to once a month at the most.
– Most journalists said that 20% or less of the stories they write are assisted or facilitated by PR people.
– 18% of journalists say that more than 60% of stories are helped by communications professionals, which is promising but still less than one-fifth of the whole lot.
– 5% say they are never helped by us.

Concerns with corporate communications or PR professionals
– 45.4% of journalists say they are annoyed when PR pros don’t know which beats they cover. 59% of trade publication journalists agree, and so do 57% of technology business journalists.
– 31.1% of us follow up releases with a phone call to see if it’s received. I personally really hate doing this, but if a week goes by without a response I call just to make sure they’re aware of the info. The people I’ve dealt with have been great with being able to use the info later, if not sooner.
– 20.8% don’t provide access to their clients when they’re needed. (Really?)
– 15.9% don’t return phone calls promptly enough. (Again – really? This is our job.)
– 13.9% of PR people don’t take “no” for an answer when a story idea is turned down. (Those people should be in sales, no?)
– 13.7% leave long voice mail messages.

Material received by journalists from communications or PR pros
– 68% of healthcare journalists echoed that PR pros sent material written like advertising, not journalism.
– 25% say the material sent contains too much jargon.
– 23.4% said the material is not clearly written, fails to focus on a story idea and say “Hey, does this company fit with anything you’re working on?”
– 12.4% said material contained typos or grammatical errors. Unacceptable in this era of spell-check!

Concerns with emails received from corporate communications & PR pros
– 52.2% say emails don’t tell why readers would care about the subject.
– 43.2% say emails don’t get to the point quickly enough.
– 26.3% say the email is too long.
– 23.5% say subject lines don’t grab attention.
– 10.6% say email wastes time with pleasantries. I’ve been told that journalists want a reminder of how we’ve worked together before, but I can also see how this can lead to a longer email than needed or wanted.

Professionalism of corporate communications & PR pros
– 57.4% say substantially professional.
– 27.7% say mostly professional.
– 12.5% say extremely professional.

How well PR pros meet or work with the editorial mission of media outlets
– 53.2% have some understanding.
– 22.8% have substantial understanding.
– 19.7% have poor understanding.

The stats were pretty nearly the same when asked how well PR pros understood journalists’ jobs and editorial focus.

Quality of writing in materials like news releases and email pitches
– 58.8% say somewhat skilled writing.
– 26.7% say substantially skilled writing.
– 11.8% say substandard writing.

Mastery that PR pros have of subject matter
– 48.9% say some understanding.
– 41.5% say substantial understanding.
– 6% say poor understanding.

At least we know we’re in the right fields, mostly!

Methods journalists use to let PR pros know how to work with them
– 61% say that this valuable info gets transmitted one-on-one over the phone. See, phone calls do come with benefits.
– 34.1% reveal them in surveys. (That most of us probably don’t read)
– 24.8% say they rarely or never reveal their preferences, which leads to the conclusion that this is one reason for why some of us are clueless about the best way to pitch them.
– 15.1% say they’re found on the media outlet’s website (I prefer this!)

Using social media to promote/publicize work
– 51.8% use social media. (Facebook and Twitter are the top 2 outlets used, with Linkedin following.)
– 48.2% do not.
– 59% of media don’t track pick-up mentions of their work referenced in social media or traditional media. In other words, most don’t care about who else picks up the story after they’ve written it.
– But, 41% do. And they should, if they want to keep their jobs.

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