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Published in the February 2012 issue of Powerlines
Journalists and News Releases – What they love, hate and really want

For the sixth year in a row, PWR surveyed over 200 journalists to learn about their news release preferences. Just over half of our recipients worked for print outlets while 18% were freelance reporters and 15% were Internet reporters. And as in the past few years, the number of journalists who said they had online responsibilities was up again this year, to 72%. This trend is also evident with an increasing number of participants indicating that they create and share digital content.

How They Want Releases
To understand how they receive (and want to receive) releases, we asked them about various distribution methods. Most are currently getting releases via email but they’re also getting releases via snail mail, online newsrooms and social media sites. However, most respondents told us they “never” get releases via wire service, fax, in person delivery or RSS feed.

But even more important than how they get them is how they want them. So we asked. As in past years, an overwhelming majority of respondents say they prefer to receive releases via email: 86%.  While all other methods of distribution paled in comparison, roughly 4% said they preferred snail mail and online press rooms while a mere 1% preferred wire services and 2% said via social media sites.


But in today’s world, email happens on the go. So we asked recipients what devices they used to research stories and review releases. As expected, nearly all (98%) said they use a computer, but 36% also use a smartphone and 18% use tablets.

Finally, we asked journalists one open-ended question regarding releases: “Please tell us if you have any comments regarding how you receive news releases.” You can view all unedited responses here, but here are a few exemplary comments regarding distribution methods:

  • "Email is always the easiest way to receive and transmit information…"

  • "E-mail still works best, but I might be old-fashioned."

  • "E-mail is useful, but one thing that would make my life easier: The inclusion of high resolution art with appropriate credit information and complete descriptions for the times when a cutline is needed."

imageWhat They Want With Releases

With so many journalists adding online responsibilities to their to-do lists, easy access to transferable content with releases is increasingly important. But to stay on top of what is, and isn’t, important to them, we asked about a variety of assets.

The most important assets requested in this year's survey were links to backgrounders, bios and other relevant content: 91% of respondents told us that was (very) important. But easily transferable verbiage was also (very) important to 73%.

And as in the past, images are key. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that easy access to high res images was (very) important. While low res was clearly less vital, 35% deemed it (very) important and nearly as many, 31%, told us that image embed codes were (very) important. Asked about image players with embed codes that would enable recipients to easily transfer entire player to a site, 26% considered that (very) important. Downloadable logos were (very) important to 44%.

The need for multimedia content continues to grow but we also see a transition from high to low quality video. In this year’s survey, while 27% of respondents claimed that downloadable broadcast quality video was (very) important, even more said web quality video was (very) important: 44%. And the need for embed codes so video can be easily transferred was also reflected here, with 38% citing it as (very) important. Downloadable audio was (very) important to 27% of respondents.

Click here to see more of this chart.

Here at PWR, we are increasingly incorporating various kinds of web content and social media elements into releases. In an effort to learn what is, and isn’t, preferred, we asked journalists and found that the two most important assets we asked about were information on a brand’s social media identity (social media footprints inviting journalists to friend and follow)  and links to blog posts relevant to the story were most essential, both cited as (very) important to 48%. Thirty-one percent of recipients told us that social media bookmarks, making it easy to archive and share releases, were (very) important while 18% said the same of tweet this icons and a similar 17% of Facebook "Like" buttons.  Another 18% of recipients said web content—slideshare, photobucket and similar online services—were (very) important while only 14% deemed links to RSS feeds (very) important. Of the assets we asked about, chat features were least significant, with only 7% claiming they were (very) important.

Some respondents to our open ended question about releases shared preferences about what they received, such as:

  • ... some of the most important factors in picking up press releases for coverage is clear and concise content - and the direct access to the source(s) and data-points so that we can quickly turn into a news-brief. Even including quotes, data points, and call-outs helps with our coverage and increases the likelihood of pick-up. Providing direct access and contact information for relevant parties is also immensely important. Adding eye-candy like video and pictures are great too but don’t necessarily influence the likelihood of coverage.

  • Images are KEY!! Thanks for asking. I am 100% more likely to carry a story if it has a strong image. Of course it has to fit within our paper's demographic too (diaspora South Asians)
Click here to view charts of survey results and browse through unedited responses to our open-ended questions click here.

How They Feel About New Media

With the explosion of social media and it’s impact on our lives and the online universe, we wanted to learn more about how journalists are feeling about new media and how they’re using it. Want to know more? Stay tuned for next month’s issue of Powerlines (subscribe here if you’re not on our list).