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How do journalists source their stories?

12th March 2013

According to latest research, UK and German journalists have a far greater workload, in terms of the volume of work they produce, than their French and US counterparts. This means they are under pressure, and have less patience with sloppy press releases. The research paper, Likes, Loves and Loathes of Journalists based in the UK, France, Germany and America, has been published by PR agency 10 Yetis. In some ways it is an uncomfortable read for the PR industry, as it shows that PR’s reputation and relationship with journalists has not improved over the last 12 months.

However, by revealing the types of pressure that today’s journos are under, and discussing how they like to research features and receive information from PROs, the findings can help the PR industry better approach journalists across the globe.

How do you research stories to get further information on companies you are writing about (taking Google as the starting point)

The impact of social media is strongly evident when looking at how journos research their stories, with Twitter and company blogs being a key source of information. Discussing how writers source stories, Andy Barr, co-founder of 10 Yetis, says: “Looking at where journalists source the majority of their stories, the results seem to echo the thoughts that we have had for the last few years; news wires are not the place to get your company or story spotted by credible, mainstream media. The questions surrounding the use of Twitter revealed a difference in approaches from the different territories we spoke to. French and German media showed far less interest in using Twitter than American and UK press. The UK media showed far greater reliance on the social media platform for helping with their everyday work than any other country.”

What are the biggest pressures in your working day?

One shocking finding is that at least 20 per cent of German, French and UK media said that harassment from PROs is the biggest pressure of their working day. Andy Barr says: “A large number of the comments were around the fact PR people seem to call to chase every press release, something that we all know is a bug bear (for both sides I think), but then something we did not anticipate was also mentioned. In the UK and America (and almost rivalling the number of comments about ring-rounds to chase a release) were comments about PROs calling to get links inserted into online stories.

“This is also where folk from search land get a mention. There were many comments about offers to buy a link from SEO execs and, in addition, many comments about PROs not understanding that journalists don’t make the final decision on links.”

What is the biggest turn off when getting a press release?

To make your press release more enticing, make sure it is clear, concise and well-written. Convoluted content, “reads like an article” and poor spelling and grammar were the top three turn offs mentioned by journalists about press releases. Andy Barr says, “I was staggered that ‘lack of contact details’ and ‘poor spelling and grammar’ featured so highly across the board. In today’s modern, technologically advanced era, there is no excuse for either of them.”


Independent surveys were run for each country by 10 Yetis via SurveyMonkey from 10 January to 22 February 2013. 2,605 journalists completed the survey. All findings can be found here.

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