I went to a CIPR event in Bristol tonight which covered topics including issues management, PR in the third sector and (yes) the fragmentation of media and the audiences who consume it.
That’s a lot of ground to cover in less than two hours (although, in fairness, the event was badged as ‘a taste of public relations’). It was one of those sessions that can induce a feeling of unease about the range of tools there are to master, and how little one actually knows about any of them.
One of the most interesting facts was delivered by third sector specialist Peter Brill, who shared exclusive findings from some research just undertaken by Haymarket into how journalists covering charities and not-for-profits prefer to receive news. The results of the survey (which have not yet been published, so you’ve read them here first) suggest that:
- Nearly 90% of those questioned preferred to get their news by email
- Just 7% said phone was best
- Around 3% said ‘not all all’ to any channel
- Social media accounted for a measly 0.4% of all responses, which is on a par with those who said they liked ‘snail mail’
Heather Yaxley said at the event that this may point to the generational make-up of the third sector media, adding that preferences could change as younger journalists become more prominent in the field. It’s interesting that, despite all the talk of social media taking over ‘old’ channels, email remains way ahead of other routes to the media in this case.
I think this may also confuse the way people communicate (as plenty of journalists covering housing use Twitter, for example) with how journalists gather news and the value they place on ‘exclusive’ content, which social media can not always provide. For PR professionals, social media is a fantastic way of scanning the environment to check for trends or issues and engage stakeholders who can benefit their organisation. But, because of its very public nature, it may not immediately appeal to traditional journalists as a news source.
If Joey Barton worked in the third sector, things would be different. More likely, the findings show how hard many journalists have to work just to stand still: checking social media on top of 100+ press releases landing in your inbox each day must seem like madness in such cases.