2010 PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey: Longer Hours, Heavier Workloads Persist; But Fears Over Further Job Erosion Moderate

Online Convergence Continues – Journalists Tap Social Media; More Bloggers Associate Work as Journalism; PR Practitioners Increasingly Leverage Online Opportunities

NEW YORK, NY April 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — The ongoing evolution of the media industry continues to place greater demands on journalists' time and responsibilities, but concerns over staff cuts and budget reductions have lessened in the past year as the shift to online reporting creates new opportunities. This, and other findings uncovered in the "2010 PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey," indicate that the merging of traditional journalism with online communications is the primary driver behind how reporters and bloggers view their work today and how public relations professionals pursue coverage for their clients.

The survey, sponsored by PR Newswire, polled a total of 1,568 traditional and non-traditional media and, for the first time, 1,670 PR practitioners. Additionally, in cooperation with CNW Group, the survey also included Canadian media and professionals. Building on prior surveys from 2008 and 2009, the objective of the study is to gauge the attitudes and ideas of traditional journalists and bloggers, as well as PR professionals, to gain an understanding of the present state of the media profession and the trends that are continuing to shape the industry.

A full review of the survey results will appear in the April issue of PRWeek. To access this coverage, please click here: http://www.prweekus.com/media-survey-2010-news-update/article/166956/

"The past year was a time of tumult in the media world, and the challenges and opportunities that arose are reflected in this year's survey," stated Sarah Skerik, vice president, Social Media, PR Newswire. "Clearly, job security and fiscal solvency continue to cast a shadow over the industry. However, the rapid growth of online reporting and the continued adoption of social media make it possible to find and connect with audiences online, presenting journalists and communicators with many new opportunities. However, this still remains a time of flux, and that sentiment is apparent in some of the diverging views between traditional and online media and the media and PR community."

Key Findings:

  • Hours and Responsibilities
    Continuing a trend from the 2008 and 2009 surveys, over 70% of respondents in this year's survey indicate a heavier workload as compared to last year, with the majority (58%) stating that the number of stories for which they are responsible has increased over the past two years. As in 2009, the primary cause of the increased workload is the need to contribute to online reporting. Of those surveyed, 62% are required to write for online news sections, with 39% contributing to their publication's blog. 37% of US journalists also now must maintain a Twitter feed.

    Canadian media are also experiencing greater demands for their time, with 58% suggesting a greater workload in the past year. Similarly, Canadian journalists are expected to contribute to online news sites, blogs and Twitter feeds, but participation is less than their US counterparts – 55%, 30%, and 30%, respectively.
  • Work Environment and Industry Outlook
    31% of respondents indicated that "staff cuts/layoffs" most affected their jobs over the past three years. This finding is significantly higher than 2009 (22%) which affirms that the instability and uncertainty in 2009 weighed heavily on the minds of reporters. Second to staff cuts/layoff, 29% of those surveyed stated that "tightening budgets" had the greatest impact on their work. Similar issues were recognized by Canadian journalists, with 21% pointing to staff cuts/layoffs and 33% suggesting tightening budgets.

    Looking ahead, the shift from print to online reporting is seen as the primary industry driver for the next three years, with 57% of magazine and newspaper journalists indicating that this trend will continue in earnest. "Reduction in staff" was chosen by 28% of respondents as the key concern for the next three years; however this number is significantly less than 2009 (42%) suggesting that reporters may feel more stable in their current positions. Comparable sentiment was expressed by Canadian magazine/newspaper journalists, with 49% stating that the shift from print to online will continue and 24% expecting further reductions in staff over the next three years.
  • Measuring Success
    When asked to identify the primary goal of their work, 50% of respondents indicated "Educate and inform the masses" as the top consideration of their job. This number is consistent with 2009's mark of 53%. However, a striking change occurred in the second-most selected measure of success: "Break news and chronicle events as they happen." Selected by 20% of respondents, the result was significantly greater than 2009 (5%) which indicates a growing premium on being first with news, likely driven by the growth of online reporting and the 24/7 news cycle.

    A new question to the survey, but an issue that appears important to success: When asked if building a personal brand was a consideration in their work, the majority of US (52%) and Canadian media (60%) responded either "extremely important" or "important."
  • Blogger/Social Media Perception & Influence
    The majority of bloggers now view themselves as journalists – 52%. This is a marked increase from 2009 when just one in three had the same opinion. Yet, despite viewing themselves as professional, only 20% derive the majority of their income from their blog work; a 4% increase from 2009.

    Among the total respondents, the use of blogs and social networks for research increased significantly in 2010 as compared to 2009; however this spike appears to be skewed by online magazine/news reporters and bloggers. While 91% of bloggers and 68% of online reporters "always" or "sometimes" use blogs for research, only 35% of newspaper and 38% of print magazine journalists suggested the same.

    This divergence was also seen when using social networks for research. Overall, 33% of respondents indicated using such assets, but blogger usage (48%) was greater than newspaper (31%) and print magazine (27%).

    This contrast is even sharper when considering Twitter. 64% of bloggers and 36% of online reporters confirmed employing Twitter as a research tool. On the other hand, newspaper reporters (19%) and print magazine reporters (17%) appear to find less value in using Twitter for research. Newspaper and print magazine reporters also source Twitter less frequently than their media counterparts, with 19% and 22% saying they have used a Twitter post in a story. This is sharply different from bloggers (55%), online magazine/news (42%) and even TV news (48%).
  • Media & PR
    The prevalence of social and consumer-generated media has led to several changes in the way that PR practitioners view and engage the press. While, PR professionals still consider email to be the most effective means for pitching journalists (74%), 43% of journalists report having being pitched through social networks compared to 31% in 2009.

    Higher success rates may be a reason behind the increase. In both the US and Canada, pitches through a social network resulted in coverage approximately 70% of the time. In contrast, the standard pitch to a US or Canadian journalist rarely leads to coverage, with 66% pegging the success rate at 0-20%.

    An interesting divergence in media and PR perception was seen in questions about the influence of advertising on editorial. While the majority of media respondents believe there is a clear line, 54% of PR practitioners believe that editorial has become "much more influenced by advertising," with 40% having received editorial coverage as a result of a pay-for-play relationship.

"Heavier workloads, shorter deadlines, and increased competition are causing journalists to seek out new sources of information to help them get their jobs done, including social networks," said Erica Iacono, executive editor of PRWeek. "Although these new tools offer a different way for journalists to interact with PR professionals and media consumers, there must still be a focus on the basic tenets of good journalism."

About PR Newswire

PR Newswire is the global leader in innovative communications and marketing services, enabling organizations to connect and engage with their target audiences worldwide.

Through its multi-channel distribution network, multimedia, audience intelligence, targeting, measurement and compliance services, PR Newswire helps corporations and organizations conduct rich, timely and dynamic dialogues with the media, consumers, policymakers, investors and the general public, in support of building brands, generating awareness, impacting public policy, driving sales, and raising capital.

Pioneering the commercial news distribution industry 55 years ago, PR Newswire connects customers with audiences in more than 170 countries and in over 40 languages through an unparalleled network of offices in 16 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and via unique affiliations with the leading news agencies across the globe. PR Newswire is a subsidiary of United Business Media Limited (UBM.L), a leading global business media company that serves professional commercial communities around the world. For more information, go to www.UBM.com.

About PRWeek

Launched in November 1998, PRWeek is the leading title for public relations in the US. News is updated each day online at PRWeekus.com, and distributed through the Daily Breakfast Briefing and Weekly Online edition. PRWeek publishes a monthly print edition, which includes in-depth features, opinion, special reports, and surveys. Over the years, PRWeek has established itself as a vital part of the PR and communications industries in the US, providing timely news, reviews, profiles, techniques, and timely research for in-house and agency professionals. The annual PRWeek Awards honor the best campaigns, companies and people in the industry. In addition, there is an annual conference, and a range of smaller events such as roundtables, webcasts, and other forums for professionals to exchange ideas and share best practices. The full content of all PRWeek publications is available to subscribers only, online at prweekus.com.

Media Contacts:

Rachel Meranus
Vice President, Communications
PR Newswire
+1.201.360.6776
Erica Iacono
Executive Editor
PRWeek
+1.646.638.6102