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 Excuse the potential outdated-ness!

This is the first of a few end-of-year blogs that I’ve put off and finally want to get back on track with!

Last month, the CNW (Canada Newswire) Group published a whitepaper entitled “Newsrooms in Canada: The New Reality” on how the traditional media newsroom has changed and what PR pros need to know to help them thrive. Here are some of the highlights:

The New Newsroom

  • Over half of Canadian journalists reported a heavier workload in 2010 vs. 2009, due to layoffs and newsrooms running with fewer staff. Reporters have responsibilities that would also have been assigned to people like photo editors.
  • Journalists file 1-3 stories every day, and 55% are now required to file for the outlet’s online edition, like wire services.  Four-day stories are now compressed into one moment.
  • Online stories now include video, audio, graphics, and links.
  • 30% of reporters are now blogging, and 30% post on Twitter as part of their jobs.
  • Newsrooms are expected to commit to standards of trust by reporting factual information, and spelling things correctly (I’d add grammar is a plus too.). Though readers get their information from various other sources like Twitter, newsrooms still remain relevant through these criteria. They play the role of “information curator” by conveying the messages that matter out of the mountain of garbage that people get inundated with.
  • Newsrooms are pushing harder than ever to be first with breaking news. They are competing with other newsrooms, businesses, municipalities, celebrities, and social media.
  • Journalists are establishing their own brands separate from their outlets. 60% of them feel it’s important.
  • Tapping into the community of listeners, viewers, and readers means that they report the news the audience wants. Social media is an important part of this conversation.

PR and the New Newsroom

  • Journalists are interacting with and reaching out to PR staff just as often, but we need to keep pace with the new media environment.
  • EPKs (Electronic Press Kits) and multimedia news releases are standard practice now instead of just a print release.
  • Journalists are going to be asked by their editors for multimedia – photos, videos, and potential for social media.
  • 39% of journalists said multimedia helped them understand a story better, and 11% reported it was helpful when pitching a story. 19% say that multimedia gets used in digital, print or broadcast outlets.
  • There are no deadlines anymore. The deadline is now.
  • Early morning news releases have the best chance at getting proper coverage, because reporters have more time to work on it. When websites are priority (most print news outlets have websites now), real time information – when it happens – is important to readers.
  • PR people need to be aware that the story never ends, even after the first piece is filed. The story is going to continue to evolve, and PR people need to stay involved.
  • “Give reporters news they can use.”
  • Be prepared for interview requests at all hours.
  • Contact the correct reporter. Less than 25% of pitches are appropriate for the topics that they cover. That means they’re getting 75% junk pitches! Not all of them are considerate enough to pass onto the right reporter, either.
  • Relationships still matter.
  • 77% of journalists prefer email pitches, while 19% like phone.

Top tips for PR Pros:

1. “Think in terms of the news package.” Multimedia (photos, video, graphics), and social media.

2. “Know who you’re pitching.” Research and make contact well in advance of a pitch.

3. “The deadline is now.” Send the release as soon as it’s ready and provide all of the background information. Make sure spokespeople are available and ready.

4. “News is a process.” The story never ends. Keep on top of comments, blog posts, tweets, and other online sources like CNW’s MediaVantage monitoring tool.

5. “Newswires are still an important part of the news process.”

Where journalists get their story ideas

  • Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
  • Newswires
  • Friends, family, and community members
  • Sources
  • Tips called or emailed into the newsroom
  • Release and pitches from PR pros
  • Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites & reader comments
  • Blogs
  • EPKs
  • Online news portals

50% of journalists say “pitches lead to stories less than 20 per cent of the time” since there’s a lot of content out there and “so many more things calling for that editor’s attention…”  However, PR pros are still needed, and both newsrooms and PR groups need to look “ahead by staying technologically up-to-date” and improving fundamental skills.

This whitepaper is interesting. Most of if I agree with and have tried to implement this year, but not all of it. So tomorrow I’ll post a follow-up blog to my blog post at the beginning of this year entitled “The News Release is Dead.”

Download CNW’s The New Reality whitepaper here.

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