B2B Journalists: Blogs, other Online Sources More than OK to Use

November 7, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Newspapers | PR | Social Media

More than 8 of 10 business journalists (84%) say they have used or would use blogs as primary or secondary sources for articles, according to the “2007 Arketi Web Watch Survey: Inside B-to-B Media Usage of Web 2.0” by marketing consultancy Arketi Group.

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The survey sought to understand the uses of technology by B2B journalists covering various industries.

“In an era exploding with user-generated content, social media, and Web 2.0, it’s important for those in business-to-business communications to understand how journalists are using technology when it comes to reporting news,” said Mike Neumeier, principal of Arketi Group.

Below, key findings from the Arketi study.

Technology Tools Used by Journalists

Not surprisingly (since the survey was conducted online) all respondents (100%) said they rely on the internet to help get their job done:

  • One-quarter (25%) said blogs make their job easier, and  18% said instant messaging makes their job easier.
  • 97% said they enjoy using new technologies, and nearly one-third (30%) said they use some type of instant messenger for professional communication.
  • 60% of journalists said they spend more than 20 hours a week on the internet.

Asked how they use the internet…

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  • 98% said reading news
  • 97% said emailing
  • 93% said finding news sources
  • 89% said finding story ideas
  • 72% said reading blogs
  • 67% said watching webinars or webcasts

Finding Story Ideas, Contacting Sources

  • Some 90% of journalists said they turn to industry sources for story ideas, an equal number (90%) cited news releases and nearly as many (89%) said they tap into public relations contacts.

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  • More than three out of four journalists (79%) report finding story ideas on newswires, while 74% said from Web sites, 72% said from other media outlets and 54% report blogs spark story ideas.
  • All journalists surveyed (100%) said they prefer working with known sources via email, while 91% prefer telephone and 77% said in-person. Interestingly, one-quarter (25%) said they prefer instant messaging with known sources.

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  • Regarding unknown sources, nearly all those surveyed (98%) said they prefer emails, and 80% said phone contact with an unknown source is acceptable.
  • Almost all journalists (98%) said they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they know, and 93% of business journalists said they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they don’t know but are in industries they cover.

All respondents said they viewed information offered online by business news organizations like the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Bloomberg as credible; 92% said they viewed information reported online by national news organizations like the national TV networks, wire services and newspapers as credible.

Other sources of credible online information according to the journalists surveyed:

  • International organizations (89%)
  • Government agencies (85%)
  • Corporate websites (85%)
  • PR professionals (77%)
  • Activist websites (41%)
  • Blogs (41%)
  • Politicians (35%)
  • Chat, message boards (18%)

An overwhelming majority of journalists (92%) said their online publication is allowed to “scoop” their print publication. The journalists surveyed wrote primarily for a print publication, but the majority also contributes to their organization’s website (68%).

Use of Corporate Websites

  • Corporate websites make a difference in how business journalists view an organization: 85% of journalists said companies without a site are less credible.
  • Illustrating the need for companies to keep news and information up to date on their sites, the majority of journalists (41%) said when they report on breaking news and cannot reach a primary source at the organization, they visit the organization’s website.
  • Industry experts, other interested parties, company blogs, industry sites and industry blogs serve as journalists’ secondary sources.
  • Corporate website information most useful to journalists is contact information (97%), search capabilities (95%), press room/press kits (92%), company backgrounders (89%) and publication-quality graphics or photos (66%).

Journalists and Corporate Ethics

  • Journalists are split on the ethical question of an employer that disciplines an employee for posting negative comments about the organization on a public blog: One-third (33%) said  it is ethical, 32% said it is unethical, 36% said they are uncertain.
  • Journalists are certain about the right of employers to monitor public blogs: Most (58%) agree or strongly agree that it is ethical for organizations to monitor public blogs for employee posts.

About the study: The “2007 Arketi Web Watch Survey” seeks to understand the opinions of business-to-business journalists and their use of technology. The online survey of 61 journalists was conducted during the summer of 2007. Some 72% of respondents have been in the field of journalism for 11 or more years, with 41% reporting they have been a journalist for more than 20 years. Among the industries covered by the journalists surveyed: accounting, automotive, business and professional services, technology, construction, engineering, finance/banking, government, healthcare, human resources and legal.

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