Newswires. The word alone conjures up images of “Press” cards in fedoras and pressrooms that used movable type (at least for me anyway). 30 Rock pretty much sums up my attitude toward newswires in its parody of “The Huntley – Brinkley Report” (click on the image on the right to view the skit).
Newswires do have their place though. Industries including hi-tech continue to use them successfully for announcements as do agencies either at the request of the client or to blast out news as part of a larger strategy that hopefully includes reaching out at a more personal level. Unfortunately for unsuspecting clients I have seen PR agency staff include “hits” like PR Newswire in their clip counts.
Save Your Resources
As you can probably tell, I am not a strong believer in newswires. When I switched from the B2B and B2C agency side to in-house nonprofit communications I quickly stopped using them due to budget constraints. Rather quickly I also found that a well crafted press release, statement, or personal phone call provided immediate results and I was conserving donor support.
If you and your nonprofit are on the fence about newswires, I encourage you to read about a recent study on the subject. The UK’s Vitis Public Relations published the results of a survey this week detailing journalists’ views on newswires.
From the Horse’s Mouth
The report states that only 37% of journalists use wires daily, 30% of journalists use wires occasionally and 21% of journalists never use wires. It also highlights how journalists use newswires: fact checking.
“Writing news for a monthly print publication I simply use newswires as an easy way to find/verify information. They are often faster/easier than navigating corporate websites and press rooms. Links in wire releases to images and more information are particularly useful.”
“As a subeditor I mainly check wires when fact checking articles for the website. It’s not a huge necessity for me to check them for feature ideas. I suppose the most important factors for me when using wires are an easy search function and quick accessibility.”
So why aren’t journalists using the newswire to write that splashy feature you were hoping to secure? Here’s what they had to say:
“From the freelancer’s point of view newswires are problematic because everyone has the same resources. My ability to earn a living depends on the exclusivity of the content I can offer, so it’s difficult to see where they fit in except as a resource for general background.”
“I did once pitch a story from one, when I was much younger – the conversation went, ‘I’ve just found this story out’…’Thanks, so have I’, said the editor. Which kind of short circuits the whole thing.”
If you are still thinking that newswires may be the magic bullet that saves time by spreading the word, consider the cost of the service as well as this rather succinct response from the Vitis PR survey:
“Why do companies and PRs still target these useless muppets to waste journalists’ time bombarding them with irrelevant stories. Do your homework properly, build up your own media contacts list and deal with them directly.”
Do you use a newswire to issue releases at your nonprofit? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.