by Michael O'Neill
August 15th, 2013

For any media relations experts looking for insight into how journalists source and verify their stories, the sixth annual Oriella Digital Journalism Survey is a great resource. The survey tracks how digital technology is impacting how news is gathered and published around the world and offers good advice on how best to reach these media outlets.

Three things for me stood out:

1. Owned media is gaining traction as a news source
When asked what would be the journalist’s first port of call when researching a story, only 7% said they would choose the good old press release (a drop from 22% just two year’s ago). In contrast, digital media options have strengthened, with 6% saying they would consult a brand’s website. (Note this is not saying that 94% would not turn to a corporate site, just that it would not be their first port of call). Equally impressive was Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn (6%) and third-party blogs (5%).

This is not surprising. Press releases are just as likely to end up in the deleted items folder as they are to be read and digested by journalists. So instead of tasking your comms team to produce yet another safe but ultimately ineffective boiler plate release, challenge them to fashion it into relevant and timely content for your corporate site; to use it as a starting point to develop engaging stories that have a high chance of being picked up by bloggers and other media.

2.  Journalists are hungry for multimedia content
The survey found that 49% of those surveyed published videos produced in-house, up from just 20% two year’s ago. There is a similar enthusiasm for third-party videos, with 34% of respondents saying their titles used externally-produced video. If journalists are increasingly publishing video, then better make sure you are also creating videos. Journalists are busier than ever, producing a higher volume of work, much of it exclusively for online. Content that makes their job easier is much more likely to be published.

3. Journalists’ personal use of social media continues to rise
The survey found that 59% of journalists use Twitter, up from 47% in 2012. If corporations and brands want to be part of the news cycle, it makes sense for them to have a social presence. After all, creating content is just the beginning — syndicating that content online so it reaches key influencers (whether they be journalists, bloggers or other) is just as important.

The overall implications for are clear: PR teams need to adapt to the huge changes in media news gathering. If you want to be engaging with journalists in the digital age, you need to make sure that not only do you have an online presence but also that you are supporting that presence with great content.

Michael O’Neill is digital managing editor, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick

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