The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bennett & Company has released the results of its 14th annual media PR preferences survey.

Some interesting stuff. Most of it is self-serving, and practically all of it is generally disregarded by PR wonks who follow a rigid, clockwork process no matter how little response it gets. But it's worth looking at some of what the media professionals said:
-- Fifty-eight percent of journalists say they prefer to receive information via e-mail, yet only one-third of the correspondence they receive is electronic. Wire service was journalists' second preference for receiving information - a first in the 14 year history of Bennett & Company's Media Survey.

-- Seventy percent of journalists say they read every e-mail, except for obvious spam, yet 65 percent of those who received our media survey via e-mail did not even open it. [Note: Guess why they didn't open it? Yup: Most consider unsolicited PR pitches to be spam.]

-- Fifty-eight percent of media chose e-mail as their preferred method of communication (a climbing statistic since 1997).

-- Only 37 percent of media say they receive e-mail most often. Mail trailed closely with 25 percent followed by fax (16 percent), wire service (12 percent) and telephone (11 percent).

-- According to Bennett & Company's 14th Annual Media Survey, 68 percent of journalists indicate that they do depend on PR firms for story ideas and content, however 62 percent say that PR materials only account for one to 10 percent of their story content.

"Often PR firms are most helpful for me in suggesting stories and setting up access for a feature as opposed to expecting me to use press releases," Bill Becher, writer for the Los Angeles Daily News

-- Although the majority of journalists (61 percent) do not feel PR firms are getting more credible, many do - 39 percent to be exact - an 11 percent increase from 2002.
My own experience is that PR firms are helpful about 10 percent of the time. They're good for some access, some information, and some facilitation. But that's where it ends. Ultimately, they're middlemen who specialize in running interference, and thus are best kept to limited roles. If I have to deal with some idiot PR reps for too long, I start hearing the same exact thing out of them, and quickly find every possible way to bypass them.