The Media Landscape Survey: Highlights and Significant Findings

Flagler & Dalton AgencyToday’s PR professionals need to thoroughly understand the media landscape. Increased knowledge and the ability to navigate new channels helps them to build stronger relationships with journalists and to effectively communicate stories to the public. The changes we’ve seen to date have been swift and steady, making it even more important for us to stay abreast of the communication preferences of our media friends, especially as they experience monumental changes in their writing styles and reporting methods. In response these dynamic changes, The Media Landscape Survey, a joint project by Dalton Agency and Flagler College, uncovered insights from more than 1,400 reporters, writers, editors and producers from around the US.  The study was conducted over the course of two semesters, the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters.

The results of the study provided many interesting findings about the journalism industry. However, of particular interest were the habits and preferences of the media respondents when working on their stories, as well as their views on more anticipated changes that will continue to affect the media landscape. Here are several of the highlights from the study to help PR professionals develop their approach to media outreach, types of engagement and overall relationship building strategies with members of the media:

Figure 1-1: Social Channels Used to Develop Stories
  • Email is still the most valued form of providing stories to journalists, with 63% of the respondents stating that they prefer to receive an email pitch.
  • News releases are still used to extrapolate ideas or supporting facts when working on a story, 61% of the time.
  • Approximately 50% of the respondents surveyed thought that the role of the reporter in the next three years is going to change, with the majority of news reporting online.
  • Reporters use Twitter 30% of the time to develop story ideas, with Facebook a close second source at 29% (see Figure 1-1).
  • According to the majority of respondents, approximately 62% of them use social media, in general, to monitor a topic when working on a story, noting that this usage is either “frequently” or “sometimes.”
  • Of the survey participants who do you use social media to monitor a topic, 63% say they pay the most attention to social activities between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Figure 2.1 Social Media Affects the Role of the Reporter
  • Approximately 70% of the respondents said that social media would be used to gain additional followers to their specific news outlets (see Figure 2-1).
  • About 57% of the participants believe reporters will use social media to follow more story topics (see Figure 2-1).
  • When comparing the different industry sectors (and their respective reporters), the top three that use social media are: general news, science & technology and finance.
  • When comparing the different industry sectors (and their respective reporters), the verticals whose reporters use social media the least are: transportation, manufacturing and medical.
Figure 3.1 Relationships With PR Professionals
  • When evaluating the relationship with the PR professional, 52% of the respondents stated that having a relationship with the PR professional does affect their decision to cover a story (see Figure 3-1).

The information provided in the joint study by Dalton Agency and Flagler College further supports the need for PR professionals to better understand and embrace social media and the changing media landscape. Today, you can use social media as a means to interact and share relevant information with reporters, building stronger relationships with those professionals who are increasing their usage and preference of social media for story ideas.

However, at the end of the day, we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with people and relationships are always personalized. It’s important to abide by the preferences of journalists as individuals, and how they want to interact with you. If a journalist wants to collaborate through social media, then you need to be present to engage. However, if a reporter prefers to chat by telephone or correspond via email, well then you should make yourself accessible through these channels as well.

To review the complete study results click the link below to download a copy of the report.

Dalton-Flagler Media Survey Results