In 2009 the media’s desire for rich content was so strong it prompted Renai LeMay, news editor of technology site ZDNet to issue an open letter to all of his PR contacts claiming “In short, we feel that the age of plain text journalism is dead.” And concluded with “So please, if you are thinking of sending us high-resolution images, audio or video of any kind, please do so. If we publish a story on a statement you issue, there is a very high likelihood we will include rich media.”

Despite the shift in the requirements of media, a survey conducted by PR firm Burson-Marsteller in 2010 concluded that online newsrooms in Australia are “generally ineffectual”, with none of the top 20 brands in Australia competing with global best practice.

According to Burson Marsteller, the online newsrooms of surveyed companies generally lacked supporting materials such as photography, logos and video content – resulting in missed opportunities to improve the quality of coverage and media relationships.

They found that media centres were typically static repositories of text-based news releases and very few even offer search and sharing functions.  They were not user friendly, even at a basic level.

The survey also noted that effective online newsrooms can ‘automate’ many media relations processes (i.e. provision of photography and supporting information) freeing up Corporate Communications professionals to focus on strategic and proactive programs.

infographic.pngIn 2011, a survey by Arketi Group has found that 81% of business journalists turn to corporate websites when they are unable to find a source. They also detailed what makes the website useful for journalists.  

Aside from the basics of contact information and search capabilities, providing reproduction multimedia assets is proving to be of significant importance.

Video production company, D.S. Simon released the 2011 Web Influencers Survey that provides more evidence for the need to provide video content. According to their survey of 1,000 media across TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and web media properties 85% use online video content to cover the news. That was an increase of 33% from 2010 and almost 80% of respondents thought they would be using more or much more in 2012. It’s also important to note that 84% of these use video content supplied by PR.

Also in 2011, the Society of New Communications Research (SNCR) and Middleberg Communications announced the results of the 3rd Annual Survey of the Media in the Wired World led by SNCR Senior Fellow Don Middleberg and Jen McClure, president of the Society for New Communications Research.
For corporations, probably the most significant finding was that 78 percent of journalists use company websites as a reporting tool.

Other key findings include:

75% of journalists use Facebook as a tool to assist in reporting, a 6% increase from 2010 study.

69% of journalists use Twitter as a tool to assist in reporting, a 21% increase from 2010 study.

68% of journalists believe that reliance on social media has increased significantly.

95% of journalists believe that social media can be a reliable tool for sourcing stories.

69% of journalists use mobile technology to search, use social networking apps, and capture videos and pictures for reporting.

It's not just the media who are searching for news online either. The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer also turned up some interesting results on how consumers are getting their news.

The Trust Barometer showed online search engines (such as Google) have become the go-to for news with 29% of respondents rating that as their first source when it comes to news about a company. “Online news sources” comes in second place with 19%. News from the company’s website (11%) ranked just behind traditional media outlets of radio/TV (12%) and print (15%) suggesting that the importance of having an effective online newsroom is almost as important as traditional media outlets when it comes to corporate reputation.

In addition to the shifting requirements of the media, the reliance on Corporate Communications to provide the information required is growing rapidly. 

In May 2011, published an article titled “PR Industry Fills Vacuum Left by Shrinking Newsrooms”. It examines the relationship between the diminishing amount of journalists and the rise of the PR profession. It provides a detailed and compelling argument on how the void created by the collapse of traditional journalism is being filled by public relations.

Among the findings is data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which found that the ratio of PRs to journalists has changed from around 1:1 to 3:1 over a 30 year period.