These are strange times for those in the news business, as public trust and confidence in the news media has eroded.
By a measure of their own assessment, “journalists perceive they are now struggling to maintain the public’s trust.” In fact, “ninety-one percent of journalists believe that the media is somewhat or much less trusted than they were three years ago.”
That’s according to the 2017 State of the Media Report by Cision, which surveyed some 1,500 journalists in the U.S. and Canada. This report is an annual event and the vast majority of respondents stemmed from traditional media outlets.
The Cision report says the findings align with the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. That study found “the general population’s trust in all four key institutions – business, government, NGOs, and media – has declined broadly.”
In reviewing the State of the Media report, it became apparent there are several impacts for PR and corporate communications, including the following:
1) Getting it right matters more than getting it first.
For a long time being the first outlet to report a story mattered more than anything else. Today that’s just not the case, as 92% of respondents said that getting the facts right mattered the most.
Few, if any news outlet can compete with the instantaneity of Twitter for breaking news, and the risk of spreading misinformation is far too great to try. This is an opportunity for PR, to the extent credible internal experts can help a reporter, and their audience, break down and understand an emerging issue. This allows time for a more thoughtful response.
A pitch is certainly a staple way of getting the word out, but email inboxes are crowded. Owned media channels, such as corporate blogging, are excellent alternatives. This is because good content earns your company a spot in the search index, which studies show reporters check for sources. In addition, the public nature of blogging means your brand is behind those words, which matters in attributing sources.
2) Email still the preferred pitching channel.
Most reporters prefer that PR pitches or outreach is conducted by email, as opposed to over the phone or through social media. The Cision survey found, “92% of journalists and influencers prefer email pitches.”
Reporters have preferred email for many years now because phone calls are an interruption. However, you can, and should, pick up the phone when you have something urgent or specific, but be considerate given the reporter your contacting could be on deadline.
As for social media, think about using highly targeted paid social posts for earned media purposes. Reporters are busy, and paid social posts are a passive way to suggest a story without interruption.
All things considered, PR pros shouldn’t get too hung up on channels though because good ideas usually supersede the conveyance.
3) A good reputation helps sell a story.
According to the survey, “more than half of respondents said displaying knowledge of past work, interests and beats is what drove an influencer or journalist to pursue a story.” Often this means, a reporter want to see some evidence of previous media citations or historical body of work.
In other words, the media wants credible sources with a proven track record of public trust. This is a good case for contributing content to reputable trade publications or helping an expert build out a body of work on the corporate blog or other owned media channel.
It’s important to note, the work has to be solid. This requires proper and diligent attribution of research statistics, the disclosure of conflicts, and perhaps, evidence of social proof. As the old saying goes, nobody watches the media, like the media.
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The best PR always stems from trust, credibility and third-party validation. You’ve always had to have your facts straight if you want to contribute to the public conversation through the lens or pen of a reporter. This report suggests the media will remain especially sensitive to it for the foreseeable future.
The full report in PDF format is available for download with registration here.
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