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FT study exposes problems in finding media information on corporate websites

August 31st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick, PR

A study by the Financial Times and web effectiveness experts Bowen Craggs has found many corporate websites fail to provide journalists with information and serve the media in a useful and effective way – which is often not in the company’s favour in terms of generating positive press coverage.

The study finds “many press offices simply do not see the online medium as an important” and this article (part paywall) in the FT theorises that this could be as many press officers are former journalists who left the industry before the advent of online and social media.

The FT Bowen Craggs Index looks at:

How well a site caters to four areas of journalistic enquiry: the news release service and archiving; the ready availability of good quality contact information; the range of background about the company and its industry; and the provision of publication quality imagery.

News release service

The FT article states journalists “do not want to be spoon fed”:

Give them a ready-made story, and they will either ignore it, or look for a way to put a different twist on it (not necessarily in the company’s favour). The last thing they want is to write the same story as other people. What they do want is leads, which explains the keenness with which they have taken to Twitter. Companies need to understand Twitter – both to feed journalists leads and to get early warning that a nasty news storm is about to blow in.

Contact information and background about the company and its industry

The FT article states:

[Journalists] tend to be in a hurry, and impatient. Their inclination is often to pick up the phone rather than trawl a site. Companies can make themselves unpopular by failing to make press contacts easy to find.

Provision of images

The study found that “one of the most significant trends this year comes from the image library metric”:

The big move forward is the increasing use of Flickr as a complementary library: see for example Nestlé and Novartis.

A remarkable number of companies do not provide an image library at all – almost a quarter of the companies in the Index, including most of the Chinese companies but also a slew of banks – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Santander, Westpac and more. Why? If you do not provide images yourselves, media organisations will surely go to your rivals or to a library.

German company Siemans comes out on top and is heralded as an example of best practice of serving the media. It has an index of 28. An example of a lower score is Johnson and Johnson with an index of nine.

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Richard Sambrook: Churnalism – the good and bad of journalism v PR

March 1st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, PR

The Churnalism debate continues with analysis from Richard Sambrook from PR agency Edelman:

Good PR  is less about spin and cover ups and more about advocacy and transparency- from which some news organisations could learn. I’m asked by old colleagues, “So what terrible deeds have you had to cover up then?”. The truth of course is  that “covering-up” or deceit is the worst advice to offer anyone, with a  high probablilty of discovery and consequent reputational damage proven time and again. If anyone has something that needs covering up they don’t have a communications issue – they have a business issue. And spin or deceit corrodes the trust and relationships on which influence is built.

Full post on Sambrook’s blog at this link

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Conversation Agent: Is ‘braided journalism’ the future of PR?

October 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, PR

Interesting post from PR professional Valeria Maltoni about “braided journalism” – the “practice of traditional and citizen journalists starting to intertwine through mutual need” – asking if this is the future of public relations.

Maltoni discusses an experiment by computer manufacturer Dell, which involves freelance journalists as part of a new website. Brands embedding journalists, she says, could be extremely beneficial to consumers and businesses:

The impact of journalists and reporters would be felt in a number of ways:

  • integrating the point of view of a third party lends additional credibility to the business;
  • presenting a more complete version than the one quote, sometimes taken out of context, in trade press;
  • bringing more customer and non-customer voices to the conversation;
  • including more representatives of the whole ecosystem the business operates in;
  • adding a needed perspective from researchers and domain experts.

Full post on Conversation Agent at this link…

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PRs reluctant to turn to Twitter will ‘die out through natural seclection’

Computer Weekly’s Mark Kobayashi-Hillary looks at the use of Twitter by trade journalists and trade PRs – or, more specifically, some trade PRs’ reluctance to take advantage of the communication tool.
If your focus is on a list of topics, and the writers at a group of specific titles, then what could possibly work better than having a window on what they are saying about their stories?
This works both ways – how many trade hacks really pay attention to the sea of press releases anymore when they can talk directly to the people they are writing about?
Some PR agencies have realised this. There are many now with strong digital and social expertise, but there are so many that are just riding on an existing contract. They will ultimately die out through natural selection

Full post on the SocialITe…

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‘A week on the dark side': Hack trades places with PR, blogs about it

July 8th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, PR

PRWeek’s deputy feature editor Kate Magee has swapped places with a PR officer for a week to see what life is like on the so-called “dark side”.

Magee is working at Bite Communications and is blogging her experiences from the other side of the equation. It’s a light-hearted, but interesting look at some of the inate differences and similarities between the two industries.

The PRWeek blog can be found at this link…

Magee’s first post on ‘Hack to Flack’ is at this link…

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Independent: Are PR agencies forging the new journalism?

June 3rd, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

PRs, who once had to go through the prism of journalism to convey their messages to a mass audience, are increasingly confident in circumventing traditional media altogether. In generating their own video and text-based digital content on behalf of clients, they are not only taking the bread from the table of a weakened advertising sector but encroaching onto the old territory of television and press companies.

The Independent’s Ian Burrell looks specifically at Edelman, the PR firm which has recently hired former BBC man Richard Sambrook and the Financial Times’ Stefan Stern, and suggests that the American-owned PR firm has a different strategy from other public relations agencies: it wants to take its clients’ messages directly to the consumer.

“The mantra is that every company has to be a media company in their own right, telling their own stories not just through websites but through branded entertainment, video, iPad and mobile applications,” says Sambrook in the Independent article. “Big companies are going directly to the consumer to engage them now, rather than through display or spot ads and the traditional means of trying to reach consumers. You can’t just be out there shouting at people about your brand, you’ve got to engage with them quite carefully, and the editorial skills that I can bring can help with that.”

Social media has given PR agencies an advantage over ad agencies in reaching the consumer, says the piece, but will PR fill the news void as traditional media continues to fragment? Or will audiences still need a third-party filter or endorsement?

Full story at this link…

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Call for responses to survey on PR ‘spamming’

May 17th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, PR

In February a group of leading PR professionals launched a campaign asking for a new charter to protect journalists and bloggers from irrelevant PR campaigns and releases.

‘An Inconvenient PR Truth’ aims to reduce “the pollution of journalist, blogger and publisher inboxes” by cutting PR spam with a list of recommendations for the industry.

The initial suggestions by the group included a ‘Bill of Rights’ on the campaign’s website, includes obtaining permission from recipients before sending press releases and not making a follow-up call to a journalist after sending a release.

The group has now created a second survey building on the initial launch document and wants responses from journalists, writers, communication professionals and bloggers to ascertain more information about:

  • Who is most affected by the issue of unwanted PR and press releases?
  • What are the main sources of the problem?
  • What is the impact on media recipients, in terms of time wasted?

The short survey can be filled in at this link –  for more details contact Adam Parker.

Says the campaign site:

[T]he survey is only going to be of any value if we get lots of responses. To date any exercise (that we are aware of) that has tried to quantify and analyse this problem has been limited by the small number of respondents anyone has been able to achieve on their own. We hope that with the help of the PR and Media communities we can get a huge response so that the data can provide an accurate insight into the issue once and for all.

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#FollowJourn: @craigmcginty/online publisher

September 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Craig McGinty

Who? Publisher for This French Life.

What? A journalist with a wide variety of experience in daily newspapers, breaking news websites and public relations. McGinty was formerly editor of the Lancashire Evening Telegraph’s website thisislancashire.co.uk and now runs a website in France.

Where? @craigmcginty

Contact? craig [at] thisfrenchlife.com

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura [at] journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Media ignorance of social work industry suggested by ComCare survey

September 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Magazines

The results of a recent survey into journalist’s knowledge of social work in the UK worringly suggest some severe gaps in understanding of the industry.

The study by Community Care, the magazine covering all areas of the social care profession, suggested that fewer than half of those surveyed knew a degree is required in order to be a social worker.

The questionnaire is part of the title’s wider ‘Stand Up For Social Work’ campaign.

The 10-question survey, which was completed by 30 journalists in a variety of both national and local media positions, including 3 specialist social care writers, also found that 68 per cent of respondents said ‘care worker’ was a social work post; and 37 per cent had no idea whether or not social workers are any better today than 15 years ago.

According to Community Care’s report on the survey last month, the findings did not come as a surprise to British Association for Social Workers chief executive, Hilton Dawson:

“We know that even the supposedly better quality print and broadcast media is ignorant of social work from the way they use outdated words such as social services and child protection or at-risk registers so I’m sorry to say that your findings don’t come as any surprise at all.”

But BASW is taking positive action in light of these findings and will be appointing a public relations manager for the first time, who will be tasked with building relationships with journalists and help improve understanding of social work within the media.

Community Care is also planning to release a factsheet for journalists reporting on the industry.

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Journalism in Africa: New broadcast laws will let sleeping politicians lie

December 8th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism

New control measures to guide live coverage of the house proposed by the Kenyan parliament have come in for immediate criticism from the Journalists Association of Kenya (JAK).

Legislators are proposing specific rules through a revised set of standing orders (rules that govern procedures of the Kenyan parliament) which include guidance on camera angles and a singular controlled signal from a proposed Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit (PBU).

Martin Gitau, the secretary general of the JAK, described the move as ‘yet another control measure by parliament’.

“It is okay to guide the media on how to effectively cover parliament but to require that all media rely on a singular signal from a parliamentary body and that specific camera shots be used when televising or filming is parliamentary dictatorship,” he said.

Gitau further described the move as ‘an assault on the freedom of the press': “We are not in the public relations business, we will not cover parliament as if it is a favour. We must be allowed to focus our camera where there is a tilt. We cannot be guided on how to cover parliament.”

The bill proposes that ‘group shots and cut-aways may be taken for purposes of showing reaction to issues on the floor but not to embarrass individual members of parliament’. The media has previously shown MPs sleeping on the floor of the house, causing a public uproar.

To enforce the new rules parliament proposes the formation of a House Broadcasting Committee that will hand out penalties for breaching the guidelines.

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