Trylon Communications  - July 2004

Using Online Effectively

A recent survey by Benchmark Research (see study) of PR managers and journalists asked the following questions:

  • How important are online communication channels?

  • What are the needs of journalists online?

  • Are PR organizations fulfilling these needs?

  • Is the PR industry using or misusing online technologies?

  • If best use of online is not being made, why?

An overwhelming number of journalists consider online being the most important aspect of business communications today. However, there are some things that clearly cause trouble for journalists. For example, email is the preferred choice of contact for journalists, but incorrectly routed email (poor targeting) and clogging of inboxes with large attachments are serious problems that PR managers must address.

Astonishing as it may seem, while 88% of journalists visit a company Web site when writing about them, only 18% of the PR managers integrate their PR activity with their online newsroom. This discrepancy reflects the disconnect between how effective the online channel can be and how poorly it is being used.

Equally disturbing is the gap between what journalists look for online and what is provided. While journalists need effective search capability to find information quickly, very few sites (24%) make use of that feature in a high quality. Journalists are also looking for image files, third-party research, and easy to find information all of which are elements lacking in most sites.

There are similar discrepancies regarding contact information and up-to-date information, though at less drastic levels. The bottom line is that while journalists consider online newsrooms crucial to finding additional information for companies, when they go there they are usually frustrated not the best way to get ink and forge relationships.

A final conclusion resonated strongly with us PR agencies should consider using quality of placement as the key to valuing the relationship instead of billing for the amount of time it takes to go through the process. It seems that we have been saying that (and walking that walk) all along.