Last month, we shared what we learned about news release preferences from our yearly survey of 200 journalists. But with so many changes in how people connect, work and publish their work, we also wanted to learn more about how journalists are using new media.
Most of our 200 respondents were from print outlets (31% from newspaper and 28% from magazine) with 12% from online. All media types were represented including bloggers.
Although print was the dominant medium, 77% said they contribute to blog or other on-line site in addition to their traditional responsibilities (a 14% increase over last year).
So we asked three simple questions: What are your digital resources? What digital devices do you use? And, what social sites do you use to find, research and share stories? In addition, we asked one open ended question: Tell us what impact new media has had on your work. Here’s what we learned…
First, not surprisingly, journalists are using a variety of new media resources to research and write stories. Most popular were search engines (82%) and press kits/releases received via email (72%). But a majority also told us that they use online press rooms (56%) and blogs (53%). Representing the growth of social media, a majority (55%) also said they use social media sites in their research (versus 42% in last year’s survey). The losers in our survey were RSS feeds (25%) and podcasts (16%).
The value of new media sources was mentioned by many of the respondents to our open ended question as well…
Great impact, especially when I can receive press kits, et al, through email, and view pictures, more info via links for Press Rooms, et al
To more effectively drill down on the issue of social media, we asked what specific social media components or sites they take advantage of when working on a story. A whopping 89% said Facebook. Twitter and LinkedIn also scored relatively high, 61% and 47% respectively. My Space, Flickr and Digg were much less popular. Social media bookmarks are used by only 26% of our recipients.
In our open-ended question, respondents both praised and belittled social media:
I am very comfortable navigating social media and it does help me to stay informed with brands I like but it doesn't help me "discover" new brands. That comes from email announcements.
Social media makes lots of noise and generates publicity, and generates unnecessary meetings, but it doesn't really change what I do, which is create recipes and stories for my readers.
With the growth in smart phones and the introduction of iPads, we wanted to find out how many of our participants were using mobile devices for research. Not surprisingly, 97% of our respondents noted that they use a laptop or desktop computer. Further, 20% are now using smartphones like iPhones or Blackberrys to view releases and research stories. While not a huge number, it’s still a significant portion of your target audience so tweaking digital collateral to be easily accessed on handheld devices continues to be important. And although the iPad was only used by 9% of our participants, rendering on the iPad is tricky business so if you want to capture that sliver of your audience, you need to design with the iPad in mind (stay away from Flash, for example). It will be interesting to see how this number grows in our survey next year.
In general, there are many different opinions about new media with many journalist embracing the changes it has triggered and others arguing it’s too complicated or not truly useful. In our open-ended question, we heard a lot about the pros and the cons:
We have a lot more freedom to cover stories, and need to approach it in the best format. Sometimes print isn't best, even though we are primarily a print product
It has complicated my work, trying to reach out to readers on so many levels other than the printed paper. I understand the need but it can get wearing.
Mixed bag...sometimes easier to make contact with key players, but there are so many "messages" out there that it's all just a bunch of noise.
To read more about what journalists told us about new media, click here. And you can view last month’s newsletter regarding their news release preferences here. Finally, we are always working to learn more about the needs of the media so we can pass ideas, tactics and success stories on to our many PR clients. If there’s something you want to know from the press, share your ideas with us. We’re always happy to hear from you.