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Digital Delivery of Multimedia PR Material is Essential to the Media – Part 2

November 3, 2011

In Part 1 we looked at some of the forces that were in play in the 1990’s that started to shift the media’s reliance on the PR industry from one of hostility to a more symbiotic relationship.  The web was established as a valuable journalistic tool for  researching and fact checking. From 2000 – the present,  the World Wide Web has matured and grown into a dynamic, media rich environment that has fundamentally changed the way people receive the news and the way the media needs to deliver it – therefore the way PR needs to supply it.

Many organisations were dabbling in the idea of developing an online resource for the media to retrieve corporate news and information – an Online Newsroom. Kay Bransford of Vocus released a white paper based the results of a survey undertaken in 2001 titled “The Ten Essential Elements of an Online Newsroom”.

The survey was of 1000 reporters from print publications to include daily newspapers, newsletters and magazines. While the study demonstrated that 86% of journalists used websites to gather information more than 50% of the time, 9 out of 10 reporters that responded say they are usually unable to find the information they need from corporate websites.

The study also asked respondents to name top three items a website should provide in its newsroom.

The Top 10 Elements were:

  1. Link directly from your homepage.
  2. Post press releases simultaneously with distribution to the press.
  3. Maintain a searchable database of press releases.
  4. Make it easy for reporters to reach you.
  5. Offer online media kits.
  6. Provide additional tools and information.
  7. Include corporate and executive information.
  8. Feature a searchable database of recent coverage.
  9. Allow reporters to request news.
  10. List awards and recognition.

In 2003 the media’s increasing reliance on PR was further highlighted with research done by Hobson and Company which found that “a typical PR department spends approximately 300 hours per year formatting postings for the Web site and answering simple questions that could otherwise be answered by self-service” in an online newsroom.

Vocus released another white paper in 2004 titled “What Journalists Want To See On Your Web Site”. Significantly, they asked PR practitioners the same questions and discovered how wide the gap had become between what reporters found valuable, and what was being provided.

This study also marked the increased importance journalists were placing on media rich content, such as images.

The desire for multimedia content correlates almost exactly with improvements in the speed of the Internet.

Broadband internet services were offered in Australia for the first time in 2000 however take up was slow. It wasn’t until 2006 that ADSL2+ was introduced and Telstra lifted it’s artificial limit on ADSL that broadband was widely embraced by the population.

Traditional media outlets were also coming to grips with the increasing amount of new media emerging. While the term “blog” was not coined until the late 1990s, the history of blogging starts with several digital precursors to it. However it wasn’t until 2001-2004 that blogging had a dramatic impact on the media landscape and was considered as a genuine influence. This period also saw the introduction of platforms like WordPress which provided anyone with a computer and the Internet the ability to quickly and easily publish content.

The mid 2000’s also saw the emergence of social media as a powerhouse force on the world wide web. From Youtube to Facebook, the world was able to access and share media rich content, forcing the media to dramatically reassess and redefine their position.

While ninemsn was established in 1997, it wasn’t until 2006 that it became a genuine news portal. News Limited announced the creation of a new division, News Digital Media, in 2006. Yahoo!7 was founded in 2006. Fairfax Digital began in 2007. These sites were all designed to re-establish traditional media’s stranglehold on the news however they were originally designed as extensions of the printed editions, rather than as a delivery system in it’s own right.

By 2009 the media’s desire for rich content prompted Renai LeMay, news editor of technology site ZDNet to issue an open letter to all of his PR contacts claiming “In short, we feel that the age of plain text journalism is dead.” And concluded with “So please, if you are thinking of sending us high-resolution images, audio or video of any kind, please do so. If we publish a story on a statement you issue, there is a very high likelihood we will include rich media.”

Despite the shift in the requirements of Australian media, a survey conducted by PR firm Burson-Marsteller in 2010 concluded that online newsrooms in Australia are “generally ineffectual”, with none of the top 20 brands in Australia competing with global best practice.

According to Burson Marsteller, the online newsrooms of surveyed companies generally lacked supporting materials such as photography, logos and video content – resulting in missed opportunities to improve the quality of coverage and media relationships.

They found that media centres were typically static repositories of text-based news releases and very few even offer search and sharing functions.  They were not user friendly, even at a basic level.

The survey also noted that effective online newsrooms can ‘automate’ many media relations processes (i.e. provision of photography and supporting information) freeing up Corporate Communications professionals to focus on strategic and proactive programs.

Awareness of the need to provide video content was given a boost in early in 2011 when a US based video production company, D.S. Simon released the 2011 Web Influencers Survey. According to their survey of 1,000 media across TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and web media properties 85% use online video content to cover the news. That was an increase of 33% from 2010 and almost 80% of respondents thought they would be using more or much more in 2012. It’s also important to note that 84% of these use video content supplied by PR.

In may 2011, John Sullivan published a fascinating and well researched article on titled “PR Industry Fills Vacuum Left by Shrinking Newsrooms”. In it Sullivan examines the relationship between the diminishing amount of journalists and the rise of the PR profession. He proposed the void created by the collapse of traditional journalism is being filled by public relations.

Among his findings is data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which found that the number of journalists has fallen drastically while public relations people have multiplied at an even faster rate. In 1980, there were about .45 PR workers per 100,000 population compared with .36 journalists. In 2008, there were .90 PR people per 100,000 compared to .25 journalists. The ratio of PRs to journalists has changed from around 1:1 to 3:1 over a 30 year period.

Also in May 2011, the Society of New Communications Research (SNCR) and Middleberg Communications announced the results of the 3rd Annual Survey of the Media in the Wired World led by SNCR Senior Fellow Don Middleberg and Jen McClure, president of the Society for New Communications Research.

For corporations, probably the most significant finding was that 78 percent of journalists use company websites as a reporting tool.

Other key findings include:

  • 75% of journalists use Facebook as a tool to assist in reporting, a 6% increase from 2010 study.
  • 69% of journalists use Twitter as a tool to assist in reporting, a 21% increase from 2010 study.
  • 68% of journalists believe that reliance on social media has increased significantly.
  • 95% of journalists believe that social media can be a reliable tool for sourcing stories.
  • 69% of journalists use mobile technology to search, use social networking apps, and capture videos and pictures for reporting.

The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer also turned up some interesting results on how consumers are getting their news.

The Trust Barometer showed online search engines (such as Google) have become the go-to for news with 29% of respondents rating that as their first source when it comes to news about a company. Online news sources comes in second place with 19%. News from the company’s website (11%) ranked just behind traditional media outlets of radio/TV (12%) and print (15%) suggesting that the importance of having an effective online newsroom is almost as important as traditional media outlets when it comes to corporate reputation.

If this isn’t enough evidence to support the need for an effective online newsroom to the ‘C suite’ perhaps the best you can do is send them this link

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