Can PR Professionals Bridge the Media Trust Gap?

An unlikely source confirms the public’s trust in journalism continues to crater. Journalists questioned in a new 2017 Cision report confessed their profession’s brand has suffered in recent years. But this provides an opening for PR professionals to help restore faith in a critical institution.

Ninety-one Percent

“Ninety-one percent of journalists believe that the media is somewhat or much less trusted than they were three years ago” (Cision, 2017).

Distrust towards the media is now on the same level as distrust with government officials. That comes on the heels of numerous recent studies showing the public’s ebbing faith in the Fourth Estate. That’s sobering news for reporters, especially since 60 percent of those questioned believe that stating the facts is more important than being first or reporting opinions (Cision, 2017).

The decline means the ties between PR professionals and reporters are more important than ever. Communications professionals can work hand in hand with journalists to create better outcomes for all.

It won’t be easy.

Journalists face multiple challenges in 2017, from regaining public trust to working with smaller news teams and budgets. Enter the savvy PR professional.

“When communicators know more about who they are pitching, what reporters need and how to help them get ahead, brands can build trust and nurture relationships” (Cision, 2017).

Cision advises communicators to shy away from “batch-and-blast” pitch methods which can sour communicator/media relationships. That practice proved the top complaint of journalists. Journalists, often battling strict deadlines, want important, relevant information in ways they can easily digest. Ninety-two percent of journalists prefer email pitches. Phone and social media pitches rank below three percent each.

Reaching Journalists

“Newsworthiness and relevance to a journalist’s audience are critical to gaining a journalist’s attention … This year, more than half of respondents said displaying knowledge of past work, interests and beats is what drove an influencer or journalist to pursue a story” (Cision, 2017).

The report confirms the growing importance of social media for audience engagement. Facebook continues to lead in that metric, followed by Twitter and then press releases.

Photos, videos, or infographics help make these social media messages pop for both journalists and media professionals. PR professionals can increase engagement by using images in press releases or pitches. But as journalists work to adapt to the ever-changing digital world, they still rate press releases as their number one most valuable PR resource.