“If there’s one thing PR professionals can do to help journalists do their jobs better, it’s ensure that any press releases they do send out have a clearly stated news hook”.
That’s the findings from this year’s State of the Media survey by Cision which polled 1,355 journalists from across six countries on their perceptions of the media and communications industries.
The study found that journalists rely on public relations partners now more than ever, with the traditional press release being the most trusted piece of content.
Seven in ten hacks said their relationships with PR professionals remained as important as ever, while 20 per cent said they are more valuable.
In an age where budgets are thin and brands are increasingly being relied on to fund content generation, the results are hardly surprising.
Out of all the issues the industry is facing, 28 per cent of the journalists surveyed said staffing and resources were the biggest challenges in the industry over the last 12 months.
Social networks and search engines bypassing traditional media came a close second at 25 per cent.
Fake news, blurred lines between editorial and advertising and issues around freedom of the press rounded out the list of challenges.
So good news all around for the PR industry, which seems to be going from strength to strength over the past few years.
But it would do us no good to rest on our laurels.
Hidden amongst the upbeat news on the PR industry are several warnings about a decline in standards.
As the opening paragraph suggests, diluting the news hook in favour of a more brand-driven topline seems to be one of them.
It is a common gripe that we contend with at 72Point.
As part of the UK’s biggest independent news agency our editors are among the most ruthless in the business when it comes to getting sign-off on news copy, and if the news hook isn’t compelling, the story doesn’t get filed.
It is a blessing in disguise in an age where news desks are getting bombarded with press releases on a daily basis. With former editors and journalists working in-house it allows us to overcome the first hurdle of ‘pitching in’ before the story goes out, which is why all our stories come with a guarantee of coverage.
As the Cision report notes, most journalists are happy to work with public relations professionals, “provided they’re receiving information that’s accurate, newsworthy and can be used to enhance their coverage”.
In a nutshell, that is our USP.
We provide stories that are properly researched, current and have a strong news hook that will start national conversations.
According to the data, 22 per cent of journalists said original research on trends was important to them, with 45 per cent saying they want more press releases with a clearly stated news hook.
Another 27 per cent said PR professionals should have data and expert sources ready to go when reporters need them, with authors concluding that: “No matter what happens in the industry, eye-catching, fact-based storytelling is still paramount”.
They said: “The PR professionals who can help reporters and editors with their work — by providing accurate, information-rich press releases and by giving journalists access to sources — will be the ones who will enjoy the greatest success”.
Our 5,269 pieces of online coverage last year suggests that is precisely what we are doing at 72Point.