Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Survey: PR people are…

Someday in the future, probably a long time in the future, a survey is going to appear which has a stunning set of findings. Those findings will include the discovery that journalists are overwhelmingly happy with how PR people deliver information, liaise with them etc.

Unfortunately I’ll probably read that study from a nursing home, but I’m confident it will appear.

In the meantime we’re stuck with surveys which find that PR people are simply doing a bad job of targeting, informing and engaging with the media.

The latest is a very detailed study (PDF) from the UK sponsored by the “Internet Press Centre” measuring “is the PR industry using online effectively to communicate information to the press”.

You won’t be terribly surprised when I tell you that the answer (according to the study) is a resounding no.

Among the findings:

  • Journalists believe the Internet is the most effective ‘reach’ channel.  PR managers believe face-to-face is best
  • 32% of journalist say that less then 10% of the press releases they receive are of genuine interest
  • The most popular reasons a journalist will read a press release are that it comes from a trusted source and that it originates from a company they follow. The third reason is an interesting subject line.
  • The leading pet hates when it comes to e-mailed press releases are poorly targeted stories, poor contact details and attachments

Here’s my take….

People expect more personalization on the Internet.  This isn’t just journalists, it includes customers and prospects.  It seems companies in general are bad at segmentation and building databases that cater for specific interests. This isn’t a PR-only problem, but it’s important nonetheless.

PR teams need to do a better job sharing information and intelligence, whether that is by using large databases or using new tools such as internal blogs

There is a clear difference (from the study) between the needs and desires of PR people and journalists.  There will always be differences and there are limits in how close you can bring the different parties together.

The corporate website is continuing to grow in importance for all audiences.  PR people need to get involved. 88% of journalists surveyed said they visit a company’s website when they’re writing a story. Of course our track record in this category is poor.  The one area we do primarily own, i.e. the online press room, still isn’t meeting the media’s needs. This is an area we can fix very quickly. It’s not like it’s a surprise to any of us!

Here’s hoping for utopia.

Written by Tom Murphy

June 21, 2004 at 1:20 pm

Posted in General

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