How financial journalists are changing the way they work

Like other sectors, the UK financial media now relies heavily on digital and social media to research and distribute news stories and features. The latest annual survey by financial service PR agency Broadgate Mainland, measures how financial journalists are changing the way they work. In the last two years the survey has been extended to also incorporate in-house PROs in the sector to monitor how they are keeping pace with this digital change of direction.

A main finding from this year’s survey is that financial journalists monitor editorial success differently. Zoe Butt, account director at Broadgate Mainland, says: “The most widely held measure of a good article is now the number of page views it receives according to 62 per cent of respondents compared to 42 per cent last year. While digital measurement is rising, the printed word is falling in prestige. Only 28 per cent of respondents felt seeing it in print was a sign of achievement compared to 35 per cent last year. Seeing the article being shared online was seen as important to 47 per cent of journalists.”

Butt describes how across the years the survey has seen social media tools such as Twitter growing from conversational tools to listening-in tools, adding: “For the first time it is being used as one of the main channels for distributing news and commentary, both on a personal level and at a publication and media level. Tweeting through a publication feed has risen in popularity with almost 45 per cent of journalists partaking, compared with just 36 per cent last year.”

The research also shows that during the last year, managing a social media presence has become a much larger part of an in-house PRO’s role, with Twitter and LinkedIn being the primary tools that companies use to engage with their online audiences.

A finding from the report that is good news for PROs is how much more journalists are reliant on their PR partners. Butt explains: “The expansion of a journalists role and the requirement to be first with the news has made them more reliant on information they receive from PROs. Three-quarters of financial services journalists increasingly rely on press releases and PR generated commentary, and over a quarter are increasingly using the same media pundits for their articles. Nearly one third (29 per cent) also feel they have limited opportunities to check the factual content of their stories.”

The way that in-house communications professionals pitch into journalists is another of the biggest changes observed in this year’s survey results. Butt says: “This year the two professions are much more on the same wavelength with their preferred channels of communication. Email is now the top way to both give and receive pitches. Nearly all (87 per cent) of journalists prefer to be pitched to by email while only 40 per cent of PROs now use the phone to pitch their ideas, down from 60 per cent in last year’s survey.

The report also describes how social media has transformed how financial companies work. Butt says: “Social media policies are on the increase and those companies that do not have a policy in place now stated that it is most definitely a work in progress. A trend is now emerging for those in-house communications professionals who are stretched for time to outsource at least the day-to-day monitoring of social media channels to an agency, highlighting the increasing importance of at least monitoring what is being said about a company even in they are not in a position to enter the debate at this stage. Over one fifth (22 per cent) of in-house PROs give responsibility for social media monitoring to an agency, double last year’s total.”

Butt concludes: “There is no doubt that social media has opened up and broadened out the channels of communication between companies and the media. However, there is still concern among in-house communications professionals that the constraints placed on them from both a compliance and time perspective are preventing them from giving social media the attention it needs and deserves.”


The Digital Trends 2013 survey, the fifth in a series from Broadgate Mainland, was conducted by means of an online questionnaire which featured 16 questions for journalists and 17 questions for in-house communications officers in the financial services sector on a wide range of topics related to use of social media. The survey took place between May and June 2013.

One hundred and five journalists and 51 in-house communications officers contributed responses to this survey. For 98 journalists and 47 in-house survey respondents, not all questions on the survey were answered. The data from these partially completed surveys has been included in the results.