Gini Dietrich

PR Pros Not Keeping Up with What Journalists Want

By: Gini Dietrich | August 14, 2012 | 

I’m sure most of you remember when the plane went down in the Hudson River.

Do you also remember the photo that accompanied most of the news reports?

It was the image to the left, which was tweeted by one Janis Krums, who was on the ferry crossing the River when the plane landed and he tweeted a photo of it.

This is when Twitter became a household name and it fundamentally changed the way we communicate.

You see, the news was not only reported by a citizen, but it was accompanied by an image. And it spread like wildfire on Twitter before traditional media had a chance to even get to the scene to begin their reporting.

This is also when you began to see the ticker along the bottom of television news reports that says something along the lines of, “This is being reported on Twitter, but has not yet been confirmed.”

What Journalists Want

Combined with the social media and citizen journalism phenomenon, the Oriella Digital Journalism Study shows journalists are now swinging back to trusted – and credible – sources for information. The TEKGroup Online Newsroom Survey shows journalists are visting company newsrooms regularly. And the Web Influencers Survey by D. S. Simon Productions shows nearly 90 percent of all media websites use video.

These combined studies showed 80 percent of journalists and bloggers value images that are easily available and ready to use. And 75 percent says they want video and that 30 percent of their websites now use externally produced video.

Those are a lot of percentages so I want you to think about that for a second.

Eighty percent of journalists you’re working with in your media relations efforts want images and nearly that many also want video.

Are PR Pros Keeping Up?

But PR pros are not keeping up. At least, not according to the PRESSFeed survey that asked 100 (small number so take it with a grain of salt) PR pros if their activities lined up with what journalists wants.

The survey discovered only four percent said they thought images were important to journalists and just a little more than half (56 percent) routinely add images to their media relations efforts.

And only eight percent said they thought a video gallery is important to journalists, with only 39 percent making video available through a company newsroom on the website.

Even though the number of PR pros surveyed is small, what I like best about the study is PRESSFeed also reviewed the company sites of  300 companies – the Fortune 100, 100 of the Fortune 500, and the top 100 of the INC 500 – to see what features and tools they provide for journalists.

Only 24 percent of the company sites offer images and 22 percent offer videos.

What Does this Mean?

The study also found only 14 percent of the news releases posted online are optimized for search.

The industry is not keeping up.

Journalists are looking for images and videos and only a quarter of us are delivering.

Are we so focused on the way things have always been done that we’re forgetting about one of the key stakeholders in our communications programs?

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About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • This blows my mind. I feel like this should be old news at this point. Journalists and bloggers have been asking for accompanying images for years now. It really surprises me that that many PR pros aren’t thinking to include images and/or video with their news. It also blew my mind when you said at the Social Media Club Detroit event that you asked a room of PR pros how many are using Google alerts and very few raised their hands. Our industry is still way behind. :/

    •  @Nikki Little And your experience in Detroit is very typical. I ask that question everywhere I go and it’s always less than 10 percent….even among PR firm leaders. The industry is very far behind and it’s going to end up hurting all of us.

      •  @ginidietrich That’s what worries me. There has been so much education from orgs like PRSA and leaders like yourself that I feel like it should be impossible for any PR pro to be stuck in the past still. I have a hard time grasping it, and it frustrates me. I know complaining does no good, so I will keep pushing on and joining all the rest of you who are working hard to educate our industry!

        •  @Nikki Little I think, until the large agencies lead the way, we’re preaching to the choir. There are a couple who are trying, but my feeling from friends who work inside those organizations is they’re way too siloed. Digital doesn’t actually talk to traditional, which is a pretty big problem. So maybe there are videos and images to be found on the social networks, but not on the company websites or through links to Dropbox or YouSendIt in news releases. 

        •  @ginidietrich Further confirming why I like small agencies. 🙂

  • Gert, nice to see you using Zemanta?

    •  @faybiz I’ve been using it for a while. For some reason, it’s now showing up in at the bottom.

  • Wow. Really? The job of PR pros is to make life easier for journalists. Period. When I worked for the court system, reporters loved working with me because I always had stuff packaged up in a nice little bow. When you give them everything they need, you make their life easier and it’s more likely your messaging gets used (which was always better than journalists figuring it out themselves). Why wouldn’t people do this?!

    •  @lauraclick Good for you Laura… as a former TV news reporter I can tell you it’s much appreciated!
      –Tony Gnau

    •  @lauraclick Well, that’s a VERY good question! I don’t know if it’s because it’s a change in how things are done, if it’s because images and videos are hard to come by (particularly if you’re on the agency side), or just pure laziness. 

  • Hi Gini… thanks for promoting my business today. 🙂  Coming from a TV news background, we occasionally get asked to produce this sort of thing since we know what the media-types like/need.
    It’s also something I’ve blogged about in the past… SHAMELESS PLUG!!! 🙂
    –Tony Gnau

  • Hi Gini… thanks for promoting my business today. 🙂  Coming from a TV news background, we occasionally get asked to produce this sort of thing since we know what the media-types like/need.
    It’s also something I’ve blogged about in the past… SHAMELESS PLUG!!! 🙂  Here’s a couple of examples of businesses/organizations doing it well.
    –Tony Gnau

    •  @T60Productions Anything for you, Tony! 🙂

  • epekstedt

    @Jhultqvist Tack för tipset. Ska läsa och lära.

  • rustyspeidel

    Imaging can be expensive, as can video. Local firms here charge between $500-1000 per HOUR. When you’re a small client with a small budget, creating video or getting a photo shoot done for your releases is just too much. With the larger release companies like PRNewswire and PRWeb, images and video cost a lot extra to add to the release, so it’s a double whammy of cost-ness. What are your thoughts on how to navigate that reality?

    • jennwhinnem

       @rustyspeidel @ginidietrich I didn’t get from Gini’s post that the images or the video had to be professionally done. Gini?

      • While there are different classifications of “professional,” I don’t think a publication would really want to publish amateur photos.. No image would be better than a pixelly or shabby one IMO. @jennwhinnem @rustyspeidel @ginidietrich

        •  @SociallyGenius  @jennwhinnem  @rustyspeidel  EXCEPT…that Janis Krums image I use in the blog post is what the national media used. And it came from his iPhone.

      •  @jennwhinnem  @rustyspeidel I don’t think they need to be professionally created. We run the gamut for our clients – the sales techs shooting videos to hiring someone like @T60Productions (for a lot less than $500/hour) to produce them. And with phones and the cool photography apps, images are easy!

        •  @ginidietrich  @jennwhinnem  @rustyspeidelThanks Gini for the shout-out… we have videos that start for as little as $500.  That’s not the hourly rate, that’s for the finished product, and it’s all professional quality.
          Most of our b-roll packages we produce range from $500-$2,000.
          –Tony Gnau

        • jennwhinnem

           @ginidietrich  @rustyspeidel  @T60Productions @SociallyGenius  Thanks for clarifying, Gini. I ask because we made a small investment in being able to DIY (dig cam + Flip cam + editing suite). One of our videos ended up being included in a media page about that particular topic. I did a cartwheel!

        •  @jennwhinnem  @ginidietrich  @rustyspeidel  @SociallyGenius Did I mention we also do consulting work to help you shoot and edit better on your own? 🙂  Keep up the good work Jenn!
          –Tony Gnau

        • jennwhinnem

           @T60Productions  @ginidietrich  @rustyspeidel  @SociallyGenius Heh! Wish I had known about you a year ago!

  • Back in April, my colleague mattcochran  wrote a great post about this topic:
    Matt makes an interesting point that, at the bare minimum, PR pros need to be aware of the agency or clients internal resources. If a report asks for more content, are there videos, images, infographics, etc. that complement the story? 

  • dangerdubs

    When I worked in the sports department of a newspaper, we always ran pictures of a terrible team just for the fact that it was free art. Free art gets your story run.

  • I remember the post you did a few weeks back about not-so-real news stories. Why don’t they just make-up photos that portray the actual event like I do. We wouldn’t know any better lol! But seriously, only FOUR percent think images are important?!? Puh-leaze – maybe I should be a journalist and do my own photos!!

    •  @SociallyGenius To heck with that! You should consult PR firms on how to create compelling images for their media relations efforts.

  • magriebler

    I love, love, love how you keep holding the feet of PR professionals to the fire. Toes are getting toasty and it’s a very good thing. Bring on the marshmallows!

    •  @magriebler The problem is…everyone who reads Spin Sucks already does this stuff. I need to reach those who don’t!

      • magriebler

         @ginidietrich But you have to start somewhere. I didn’t know about SpinSucks till a couple of months ago. And I don’t feel as alone as I once did. It all makes a difference.

  • saratweetshere

    @geekgiant The name of that blog is awesome.

    • geekgiant

      @saratweetshere Truly is. I’ve found that when @ginidietrich speaks, we’re best to listen.

      • ginidietrich

        @geekgiant Smart, smart man. @saratweetshere

  • JeffHaws

    Take heed, @CatherinedkPR … RT @jeffespo PR Pros Not Keeping Up with What Journalists Want via @ginidietrich

  • susancellura

    Amazing! I had no idea that many did not find images important. I start looking for an image once I know a press release or article opportunity is available (or I make the opportunity available).

    •  @susancellura It seems weird because we all know how compelling images are…I can’t decide if it’s because we don’t have access to them or people just aren’t thinking about it. And…thanks for the LinkedIn share!


    @barbdelollis @jeffespo @ginidietrich Great read, thanks for sharing!

  • AdamWeitner

    @Rose_Begonia @SDGreenall thanks for the RTs!

  • DanielleCyr

    @RhondaHurwitz Happy to share! Have a great rest of the day.

  • ginidietrich

    @nikki_little LOL! Yes, you did!

  • ginidietrich

    @KaryD Painful.

    • KaryD

      @ginidietrich It’s a skill I tell students they are going to need. Repeatedly.

  • ginidietrich

    @Chad_Cohen WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!?!

    • Chad_Cohen

      @ginidietrich – I’ve been around. You’re just too popular now…

      • ginidietrich

        @Chad_Cohen I haven’t seen you around (stupid travel). How are things?

        • Chad_Cohen

          @ginidietrich – things are well. been jamming all summer. saving the world one press release at a time….

        • ginidietrich

          @Chad_Cohen If anyone can save the world that way, it’s you.

  • It is hard to fight inertia. People don’t like change and many simply won’t do it unless they are forced to.

    •  @thejoshuawilner I know, I know. It just makes me shake my head.

  • Frank_Strong

    @lizcies How do you keep up, Liz?

    • lizcies

      @frank_strong I keep up by reading @ginidietrich. 🙂 It’s great to see actual data that supports a hunch.

  • mlaffs

    @ginidietrich great to see @sallyfalkow’s work featured in your blog, and thanks for the break-down

    • ginidietrich

      @mlaffs @sallyfalkow I like what PRESSFeed found in that survey!

      • sallyfalkow

        @ginidietrich @mlaffs Thank you! It was an interesting exercise

  • Guyettkk5
  • AlisaCosta

    It doesn’t surprise me. As newsrooms cut staff, journalists are not getting lazy, they have run out of time to do the work of journalists. Any way PR pros can offer reliable content will help. Thank you for posting this. It’s helpful moving forward with my work and selling it to my coworkers.

    •  @AlisaCosta Exactly! We can still be trusted resources and yet so many still throw text news releases out there to see what will stick.

  • jennwhinnem

    @ericamallison ha ha you are so cute.

  • JoelFortner

    @ginidietrich Shared this with @usairforce public affairs folks today.

  • ElissaFreeman

    Great post – and a good reminder to some of those old school ways of doing PR that have never really gone away…images can: a) round out the journalists’ story and (b) save them from having to shoot their own b-roll.  I’ve also provided b-roll with ‘as close as I can get’ to spokespeople interviews (which can be achieved if you hire a former reporter to do this for you).  Once you establish yourself as a credible purveyor of images/b-roll, media outlets will know they can get a one-stop shopping story from you.

    •  @ElissaFreeman I also love giving people the behind the scenes look. GE does a nice job with this – they lift the curtain and let people see what they’ve been hiding for years.

      • ElissaFreeman

         I agree. If you ‘lift the curtain’ so to speak…you can prevent having the media lift it for you…

        •  @ElissaFreeman  @ginidietrich I love, love, love what McDonald’s did with their behind-the-scenes series of videos. 
          Took some serious cajones, but it’s been awesome to see. 

  • ginidietrich

    @T60Productions And photos, too

  • Lisa Larranaga

    I would like your secret, @ginidietrich . I can’t figure out how you are able to read studies, write blog posts, tweet, comment … and breathe. If it involves more coffee, I’m in 🙂 
    You do a great job of offering continuing education for PRs. I think @AlisaCosta makes a great point. When I was leaving my newsroom job (early 2008), it was just getting equipped with cameras that could both take photos and video, enabling reporters to have the ability to do both, plus interview/investigate/write a story. If PR pros can take a bit of work off their plate, it will make everyone’s life easier.
    We liked this post so much we made sure to share it with our Twitter followers. Thank you for the great read, and don’t forget to share your secret with me 🙂

    •  @Lisa Larranaga  Well, I don’t drink coffee so that’s not it. I used to think it was easy – I get up at 5:30 in the morning and I spend my first three hours doing this stuff. But then I realized I’m totally psycho and that’s not normal. I also love to read and do that instead of watching TV. Zite on my iPad is my new BFF.
      Thanks for all of your support…as you know, I’m a big Cision fan!

      • Lisa Larranaga

         @ginidietrich Oh, you’re too kind 🙂 We’re big cheerleaders for you, as well! I read an article once on CEOs and their morning wake-up time, which averaged around 5 a.m. So you aren’t psycho – the early bird gets the worm! Have a nice evening!

  • Thanks fro sharing the survey results.  Great to see the conversation

    •  @Sally Falkow Thanks for the survey…it was really interesting!

  • MarkGBeer

    @dubaitara Thanks Tara-that is really interesting.

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  • kentonlarsen

    “PR pros not keeping up with what journalists want.” The headline positions PR people as being beholden to journalists, when – in fact – the jobs are two sides of the same coin; it’s not the journalist doing a PR person a favor, it’s an exchange of value. This headline reads like an Onion parody of the gatekeeper era.

    •  @kentonlarsen You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but that is not at all what I meant…nor was it what is in the blog content. As you know, writing headlines is all about creating an opportunity for people to click via the various social networks so they’ll read more of the content.

    • jennwhinnem

       @kentonlarsen I think it’s more give-and-take than some constant equilibrium of value exchange. And sometimes, PR pros are not keeping up.
      Any headline could read like an Onion headline.

  • ginidietrich

    @terreece I heart Zite.

    • terreece

      @ginidietrich Yep, it’s dead useful, I love how I can send it over to Evernote so I keep track of my article ideas.

      • ginidietrich

        @terreece My team hates it because I send them a TON of links!

        • terreece

          @ginidietrich It triggers the “Oh that’s good”and “Check this out” reflexes. I end up sharing & bookmarking half of the articles I read.

  • Going to be devils advocate because I can……why should PR step up it;s game when websites like mashable will just publish your crappy press release so as to fill web pages?

    •  @HowieG I’d like to think we can step above all of that.

  • Gini,
    I’m an editor of a newspaper. A couple days late to this conversation, but, a few months ago, I started specifically telling all PR pros I met with – send me video! Send me photo galleries! We will use them.
    A few – particularly non-profits – are sending galleries with their press releases. To date, not one PR person has sent a video or link to a video.
    It has nothing to do with being beholden to us – with our websites, we’re telling stories in a variety of ways. It’s a chance for businesses and organizations to go beyond a press release and tell their stories to our audience in new and exciting ways.

    •  @ClayMorgan I don’t think it has anything to do with being beholden to journalists either. The fact is, if you’re a communications pro doing media relations, you need to work with journalists to give them what they want. Why is that so hard?

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  • FletcherDoyle1

    .@Steveology @ginidietrich Love this. B-roll on file could help a lot of journalists complete videos after they interview subjects.

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