Survey results: how journalists use newswiresFirstly, to clarify, when we say newswires we mean press release feeds or press release distribution services – these terms are often used interchangeably and, as one of our respondents pointed out, there’s a clear distinction between services such as Reuters, PA and Bloomberg (which carry original articles by journalists) and press release feeds.
We surveyed 80 journalists from our own contact lists across a variety of industries, but as we are a technology PR agency, we didn’t include industries that we don’t target, such as fashion and property. Our survey targets did include consumer and business tech, marketing, cleantech, ecommerce/retail and the automotive sectors and we think these results are applicable across the board.
Journalists from daily newspapers to well respected websites and freelancers took the time to help us to understand:
- How often do you use newswires?
- Which newswires are the most valuable?
- What do you use newswires for?
- What do you prefer newswires do for you?
“Why do companies and PRs still target these useless muppets to waste journalists’ time bombarding them with irrelevant stories. Do your homework properly, build up your own media contacts list and deal with them directly.”
The issue of filtering came up several times as did bypassing a log in screen:
“They need better customisation options to provide more accurate content”
“Speed is critical to my job and not having to log in to a newswire service to view articles is essential to me.”
“I like BusinessWire as the links included in their emails go directly to the articles without having to log in first. I started out using PRNewswire but stopped as you have to log in each time you want to view the articles they email out.”
Onto the results of the survey.
How often do journalists use newswires?
- 37% of journalists use wires daily
- 30% of journalists use wires occasionally
- 21% of journalists never use wires
Which newswires are the most valuable?We asked respondents to indicate which services they found most valuable in their work, from this list:
- Newswire Today
- PR Fire
- Press Association
- Press Dispensary
Although PA (Press Association) provides news stories written by journalists, it also allows companies and PR agencies to pay for release distribution.The PR Newswire positioning also reflects our unofficial ranking in our mini-review of paid press release distribution services.
Newswires specific to particular verticals were also mentioned by individual journalists NewsPress (automotive), Headline Auto (automotive), Gamespress and Technology4Media.
Based upon the comments we received, journalists indicated (perhaps unsurprisingly) that industry-specific services tend to be more valuable.
Here are some of the comments from journalists about how the services could be improved, so if anyone from wire services is reading, get your notepad out:
- “None of them are comprehensive so you end up with all the biggest bug bears with wires at various points filtering and targeting and ease-of-use.”
- “Wish they had better filtering. The categories are always too broad.”
- Newswires are great things but they never manage to target accurately enough – there are rarely stories that suit me.”
- “Important that EVERY news item is relevant and useful otherwise you end up wading through releases.”
What do you use newswires for?78% use them for news stories, while 56% use wires for article and feature ideas and 56% for monitoring industry trends.
The mass news distribution offered by wires is a negative for some journalists, especially freelancers who benefit from exclusivity: “From the freelancer's point of view newswires are problematic because everyone has the same resources. My ability to earn a living depends on the exclusivity of the content I can offer, so it's difficult to see where they fit in except as a resource for general background.”
“I did once pitch a story from one, when I was much younger - the conversation went, ‘I've just found this story out’...’Thanks, so have I’, said the editor. Which kind of short circuits the whole thing.”
Fact checking seems to be a useful service. Specific journalist feedback includes:
“Writing news for a monthly print publication I simply use newswires as an easy way to find/verify information. They are often faster/easier than navigating corporate websites and press rooms. Links in wire releases to images and more information are particularly useful.”
“As a subeditor I mainly check wires when fact checking articles for the website. It’s not a huge necessity for me to check them for feature ideas. I suppose the most important factors for me when using wires are an easy search function and quick accessibility.
What do you prefer newswires do for you?We asked if journalists would like press releases direct to their inbox, a link to a place to visit, or to be left alone by the wire services.
Most respondents wanted a place to visit to access releases and news, this preference was just ahead at 37% while 33% wanted targeting emails to their inbox (8% didn’t want anything from the wire services).
Digging into these results did show some differences:
- 60% of respondents who used newswires services to monitor industry trends, said they would prefer a place to visit and check news vs. 36% who wanted releases sent to their inbox
- Journalists working on national publications expressed a strong preference for having a place to visit (88%).