How much has changed, and how much stays the same: this was clear from yesterday’s conference. Janine Gibson of the Guardian and Neil Midgley of the Telegraph kicked off in fine form with new media-focused views on how the national newspaper journalist’s job is quickly evolving. Nowadays, the traditional 400-word news story is only the part of it. The reporter’s blog can show how the story is evolving in real time, with reader comments often shaping the outcome. This blog is also the place he or she will put stories the news editor will not find room for in the paper – that creates new opportunities for PRs to engage.
All this means an instant response from the PR is vital, and that journalists are busier than ever – ‘insanely busy’ according to one panelist, ‘crazy-busy’ in the words of another. They want stories pitched in brief, pithy, well-focused e-mails – not with long, waffly, often-irrelevant press releases. So, target press releases, rather than sending every last dull announcement to everybody. Here, not much changes, Surprise, surprise – journalists still hate follow-up ‘did-you-get-my-press-release?’ calls unless it’s an important story which they would be angry to miss. And of course it still helps to cultivate those contacts – journalists are much more likely to take a follow-up call from people they know. Finally as James Cooke from Barclaycard reminded us, despite all the talk about Twitter and Facebook, ‘old media’ such as radio and TV have far more impact – it’s still where most of us get our news.