Bulldog Reporter and TEKgroup International have recently released results from a 2007 survey of journalists on media relations practices. The survey, based on responses from 2046 journalists, is full of useful information on media relations.

Some of the top-line findings include:

  1. Journalists first choice for receiving news releases is via e-mail – In fact, 77.9% of journalists reported that their preference was to receive news releases via e-mail, while 7.9% responded commercial newswires and 4.5% reported online newsrooms.
  2. Journalists continue to adopt social media – Almost 70% of journalists read one or more blogs regularly, just over 28% visit social networking sites once per week or more, and more than 37% of journalists subscribe to RSS feeds.
  3. Journalists visit online newsrooms – Nearly 50% of journalists visit online newsrooms more frequently than once per week. Over 73% visit online newsrooms more than once per week. That being said, almost 50% of journalists generally agree that it is often difficult to find an organizations’ online newsroom.
  4. Journalists use online news portals – Interestingly enough, 50% of journalists visit Google News and over 30% of journalists visit Yahoo! News to follow news. In fact, journalists usage of Google News surpasses their usage of the major networks, MSNBC and even CNN!
  5. Journalists skeptical of PR – Over 64% of journalists believe that PR people try to spin stories too often and nearly half of journalists believe that PR people are not sufficiently aware of which media outlets they are pitching nor the beat of the journalist they are pitching.

So based on these top-line findings, I’d recommend a few things for PR people interested in improving their media relations techniques:

  1. Use a multi-tiered approach to media relations – A newswire is not going to solve all your media relations challenges. It will provide broad media distribution but you need to balance that with targeted e-mails to key journalists who are going to be interested in your news.
  2. Consider a social media strategy – Journalists do actually read blogs, subscribe to RSS feeds and visit social networking sites. If the notion that journalists don’t care about social media was holding you back before, maybe it is time to reconsider your approach to social media. In fact, a blog is a perfect channel for news that may not be appropriate for a newswire.
  3. Get your online newsroom in order – Because journalists are looking! Make sure it can be found from the homepage of your corporate Web site without a great deal of hassle. Also make sure you are following current best practices for an online newsroom.
  4. Get your news into Google and Yahoo! – These resources are not only going to help you get your message to a mass audience but also to journalists. Google News is one of the top resources used by journalists to keep up with the news.
  5. Don’t spam journalists – Nothing angers journalists (and bloggers) more than spam. If you are a PR person, do your homework and make sure you are familiar with the journalist you are pitching before you pitch. Don’t just send a blanket pitch nor blast your release out to a huge list. You will be doing a disservice to both your company as well as your trade.