PR professionals – still journalists’ most important source

Close up of vintage typewrite keyboard

The relationship between journalists and public relations went under the microscope today, as CisionUK broadcast a webinar examining how journalists use social media, and engage with PRs. The webinar focused on the findings of Cision’s 4th UK Social Journalism Study.

The results are refreshing. The survey conducted with the help of Canterbury Christ Church University, and which surveyed 466 journalists across the UK, made the key finding that PR professionals are the most important sources for journalists, followed by experts/academics and then other journalists and media outlets.

Source: Cision UK “Social Journalism Study 2015”

Interestingly, journalists valued news and information provided to them by public figures, government officials and the general public much less. It’s clear, when journalists want an informed view on an issue, they turn to professional communicators.

It also demonstrates when reporters need to cut through layers of bureaucracy, management speak and corporate jargon they still turn to PRs – the people who live and breathe communications. Great news for our industry.

But, the way PR agencies contact journalists is changing. As an increasing number of media outlets and journalists embrace social media, more and more of them graze the medium for their stories. Although more than a third of PRs still use the phone to pitch stories the number is falling. In 2013 the phone was used by 59.3% of PRs, but by 2014 that had fallen to 38.6%. 

It’s a big drop and it’s clear that some of those communications are now done using social. The survey supports this shift, with 32.4% of PRs using social media as their primary communication tool in 2014, an increase from 18.5% in 2013.

Our approach – horses for courses – figure out how journalists like to communicate, and engage with them on their favourite channels. That’s what works.