What do journalists think of PR professionals?

The results of our journalist survey suggest that despite massive changes in the media in recent years good old-fashioned research and an understanding of what makes news are the keys to successful PR.

We surveyed over 400 journalists between 19 August and 12 September 2014 in order to discover their thoughts about PR and how PR professionals work with them.

None of the results were earth-shattering but there was a clear consensus that journalists simply want PR professionals to take the time to understand their media outlet and pitch only relevant, newsworthy stories.

While 89 per cent of respondents said they preferred to receive pitches via email compared to 18 per cent for the phone, a small minority chose social media (for example only five per cent prefer to be contacted by Twitter). In the comments some journalists argued very much against being pitched via social media.

I believe we need to be a bit careful how we respond to this result – what was being asked here was specifically about being ‘pitched’. It would be dangerous and wrong to interpret this statistic as damning social media outright. I personally believe that social media is an important and powerful tool for developing relationships with the media  (and other influencers) as well as being a media channel in its own right.

The survey implied that PR skills, in the eyes of journalists, are not getting any better. When questioned if there had been an improvement in the professional quality of PR people in recent years, 57 per cent of journalists said no, just 15 per cent said yes with the remainder saying ‘don’t know’.

While many of the objective results of the survey are perhaps not surprising given journalism’s traditional skepticism towards PR, the large number of comments provided by the respondents offers some insight and points to continued value of relationship-building.

Despite such massive change in the media it could be a matter of ‘everything has changed yet nothing has changed’. Ultimately, there is a need to develop good relationships with the media, as by doing so PR professionals are able to get a true insight into what stories work best for each media outlet and each individual journalist.

Full survey results: DWPub journalist survey – What do journalists think of PR people?

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