As a specialist electronics content marketing and PR agency, we’re always looking for ways to refine our services, both to clients and editors. That’s why we recently undertook a survey of editors and journalists in B2B electronics media. We wanted to make sure we’re delivering information to them in exactly the way they want it, and to see what they think of newswire services these days. The results held a few surprises…not least that newswires are largely ignored.

How much information is taken from newswires?

73% of the editors we spoke to said that less than 10% of the releases they publish come from newswire feeds, with the rest being directly delivered from companies or PR agencies. What’s the reasoning behind this? Relevance.

Releases directly delivered from companies and agencies are more tailored and targeted. This makes the content useful to both the journalists and their readers. While newswires can help with stories such as mergers and acquisitions, in general they just blurt out a barrage of information in the hope that something will stick. In other words, it’s little more than PR spam.

What’s the best format for companies and agencies to use when they deliver press releases?

Publitek’s client press releases give the whole story in a plain text email as well as in an attached Word file. Almost 60% of the editors surveyed stated that they usually take the information they need straight from the email, with another 18% using the email and the Word file interchangeably.

So why the preference for taking the information directly from the email? First, time pressure was an overwhelming factor. This method instantly allows the editors to see if the story is of interest and to access its details, without having to follow any further links or downloads. The second factor was that journalists often reduce the releases to plain text anyway: the email just means that the story is already in the correct format.

But that’s not to discount the Word file altogether. One of the significant benefits mentioned was that it is a back-up for editors receiving releases in languages other than English: plain text can struggle to display accented characters, for example, which will be correctly displayed in the Word document. Additionally, the document can be edited – useful when journalists want to research around the topic and add their own spin to the story.Press-Release-Format-Preferences

Therefore, this tells us that to satisfy time pressures, linguistic considerations and editing demands, best practice is to send the full story in both the email and the Word document.

In light of these findings, it is unsurprising that an idea for an alternative format was not generally appealing. We suggested having a brief synopsis of the release contained in the email, with the full story available in an attached Word file. However, 68% of editors rejected this concept.

While this might seem like it should be an attractive, time-saving idea – being able to decide if a release is of interest without having to read the entire thing first – it seems that editors prefer to have everything in the email to make it even quicker when using the content. Downloading more than is absolutely necessary is, in itself, more time-consuming.

What’s the best way to deliver images with press releases?

We deliver press releases with hyperlinks that enable editors to download high-resolution graphics. Given the emphasis on time constraints, during our survery we proposed the idea of a release in HTML format that would show previews of the images. The rationale was that it would straight away help the journalists judge whether to take the story, and the images could then be downloaded in full by clicking on them.

Perhaps surprisingly, over 77% of journalists rejected the idea. The main reasons behind this were that pictures within the release could make it too cluttered and therefore less appealing to read, or simply that the links we provide currently are convenient and straightforward.

Yet there was a significant strength of feeling amongst the remainder, who favoured previews. They argued, conversely, that following the links is too time-consuming and previewing graphics could help one particular release stand out within the volumes of them received.

So, we can see that the subject of images is fairly divisive. One hint we can glean from these results is that personalising releases according to editor preferences may pay off in terms of response.

Aside from the ways to access graphics, another topic of relevance was the images themselves: digital editors expressed demand for low-resolution images, rather than just high-resolution. Seeing as the vast majority of media channels have today diversified into digital media as well as print, best practice now means supply ing both low- and high-resolution images.

To sum up, editors  take the information mainly from the plain text email, but it’s a good idea to send out a Word document as a backup. As far as images are concerned, it seems to be a matter of personal preference – getting to know what journalists like is a handy tool in establishing what they’ll respond best to. Lastly, the importance of relevant content is a major factor. A well-tailored release, delivered directly, will gain more traction against the largely-ignored newswire wall of noise.