PRGN media study shows reporters’ growing social media performance anxiety

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What is keeping journalists up at night? Recent research from our network of global PR affiliates, the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) shows that reporters are facing increasing pressure to produce multimedia stories and build engagement for their stories on social media.

One-half of the 110+ journalists from around the world surveyed by PRGN say their position now requires them to create content for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms as well as to produce video for their outlets’ online presence … all in addition to their usual newsgathering and reporting.

Globally, there is no question that journalists today are facing increased pressure to produce more multimedia stories and promote their stories via social media. In fact, many reporters have told us that editors and producers are evaluating their reporters’ performance by looking at how many views, comments, shares and likes their stories are getting online.

So, to help these reporters – and to help our clients generate more coverage – we have to expand our storytelling to include visual and graphic content that work well with these online platforms.

Released in late 2017, the PRGN survey polled reporters from around the globe to gain new insight into how journalists’ work is changing and how reporters prepare for media interviews.

The survey asked reporters to assess how their reporting responsibilities have changed over the past two years, as well as how they research and evaluate CEOs before and during an interview.

“As PR practitioners, we certainly have anecdotal evidence and experiential knowledge of how these factors impact the success of our clients. We also recognize that quantifiable data is ‘king’ when it comes to supporting opinions,” said Leeza Hoyt, president of PRGN’s Los Angeles agency The Hoyt Organization, which designed the survey and coordinated its implementation with the network’s more than 50 members.

“In this case, we discovered that while business leaders can adapt to a rapidly changing media landscape, there is a great deal of added pressure on media professionals to populate additional channels. That said, reporters still most often rely on past news coverage, websites and info from PR agencies as their top research tools,” Hoyt added.

Among the PRGN journalist research highlights:

Media interview preparation

When asked what tools they use to prepare for a media interview:

  • 86.7 percent of reporters use past media coverage of a CEO as a top consideration when determining their credibility (36.3 percent consider it the first source)
  • 75.2 percent refer to company websites (20.4 percent consider it their first source)
  • 63.7 percent use info supplied by a PR agency (10.6 percent consider it their first source)
  • Google searches (57.5 percent), company annual reports (35.4 percent) and professional sources who know the company (35.4 percent) were the other key sources reporters use.

Despite the growth of use of social media among journalists, no respondents considered social media among their first source for media interview preparation, though 21 percent did name it among the sources they do check. Among reporters that used social media, 69 percent of reporters said they used Facebook, 65.5 percent used Twitter, 62.8 percent used LinkedIn and 37.2 percent used YouTube. No other social media platforms had more than 7 percent usage in reporters’ interview preparation.

CEO vetting

Among the top factors reporters said they consider when they are vetting a CEO as a qualified and credible interview source:

  • 85 percent consider industry or market knowledge
  • 53 percent look at their professional track record
  • 41 percent review past news coverage
  • 40 percent consider the CEO’s personality.

Interviewing methods

The PRGN survey found that, when it comes to reporters’ willingness to conduct an interview in writing (often a preference of many PR clients):

  • 62.5 percent of journalists will conduct an email interview in some situations
  • 33 percent of reporters will never offer email interviews
  • Only 4.5 percent actually prefer to conduct interviews via email.

Pre-publication Review

More than two-thirds of journalists surveyed said they do sometimes allow interview subjects (or their PR agencies) to review direct quotes before publication, but most reporters said they do not allow reviews of the entire article:

  • 24.3 percent of reporters often allow reviews of CEO quotes only
  • 34.2 percent only occasionally allow article reviews, in special cases
  • 29.7 percent will never allow article reviews
  • 11.7 percent allow reviews by the sources only (not their PR firms).

Social media and other reporting duties

Demonstrating the growing pressure reporters that are under to perform well on social media, the survey found:

  • 89 percent of reporters are required to provide basic online content (virtually unchanged from two years ago).
  • Only 57.3 percent of respondents are being asked to provide print content (down from 67.6 percent two years ago).
  • 49.1 percent of reporters said they are required to provide visual content (36 percent two years ago) and 29.1 percent are required to provide photos (22 percent two years ago)
  • Social media requirements for reporters have taken a big increase across all platforms compared to two years ago: 55.5 percent must post to Facebook (up from 37.8 percent); 47.3 percent must Tweet (up from 35.4 percent); 20 percent must post on LinkedIn (up from 14.4 percent); and 14.6 percent are required to post blog content (up from 10.8 percent).

“PRGN’s goal was to give our members and their clients the most up-to-date understanding of how reporters and bloggers go about their jobs and consider their sources,” said Christina Rytter, president of PRGN and founder of Copenhagen, Denmark-based Scandinavian Communications. “As a result, agencies can better prepare our clients by giving them a broader appreciation for the pressures and processes that media professionals face on a daily basis.”

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