I find this juxtaposition very interesting. It sounds contradictory but look deeper and I don’t think it is. One report shows that the vast majority of journalists today use social media to prepare their stories. The other says that the press release is far from dead but may be more important than ever.
First, journalists and social media. This report says that the vast majority of reporters today use a variety of social media tools to prepare their stories: 89% use blogs (remember blogs, used to be we all talked about them), 65% use social networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin, 61% use wikipedia and 52% use Twitter or other microblogging tools.
Then there is this fascinating study from Pew Research looking at how news is generated and covered today, with an indepth look at the Baltimore market. It seems to counter much conventional wisdom regarding the decline of traditional media and particularly the oft-repeated (including by myself) statement that the press release is dead. It shows that most stories originate in traditional media, that despite the significant growth in news outlets most stories (83%) are repetitive, and that traditional media are embracing multiple forms of new media.
The report stated:
As the economic model that has subsidized professional journalism collapses, the number of people gathering news in traditional television, print and radio organizations is shrinking markedly. What, if anything, is taking up that slack?
The answers are a moving target; even trying to figure out how to answer them is a challenge. But a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which takes a close look at the news ecosystem of one city suggests that while the news landscape has rapidly expanded, most of what the public learns is still overwhelmingly driven by traditional media—particularly newspapers.
One analyst of this report suggested that the decline of reporters and the urgency of immediacy in coverage means that the traditional press release is perhaps more important than ever as strapped reporters and editors are more likely to take prepared releases, images, B roll, etc. I think there is real truth to that but my take from the combination of these reports is that the best media relations strategy is to use short bursts of immediate information to alert reporters, then detailed fact sheets accessible via web link. Writing those in a form and format useable by your target media is a good idea in addition to a bulleted fact sheet.
There is much to learn from both of these reports. One thing is certain, how the news media collects and reports the news has changed dramatically and that means the methods use to provide them the information to report needs to change as well.