Industry leaders take note: here is what journalists want

A SURVEY across the Australian journalism spectrum by reputation and public relations company BBS Communications is becoming something of a sentinel for business leaders seeking to understand how they might communicate better, utilising their industry expertise.

BBS Communications director Matthew Hart said as CEOs and company executives strive to be seen as industry leaders, Australian journalists say they are seeking knowledgeable, qualified, and articulate experts for their stories.

The annual BBS Media Survey found journalists used expert sources in about 54 percent of their stories on average, however for some the figure was much higher, with 46 percent of journalists using expert commentary in 70 percent or more of their stories.

Mr Hart said when asked what types of stories they were most likely to need expert commentary for, journalists’ top picks were health (64.4%), business and finance (60%) and science (53.3%).

More than 84 percent of journalists said they often used their own contacts to find an expert source – including their colleagues, industry and PR contacts, or experts they had worked with in the past. Journalists said they also used university directories, Google searches and organisation websites to find suitable experts, but rarely social media.

The two factors that had the highest impact on journalists’ perception of an individual as an expert were their academic qualifications and having conducted research in the field. Holding a CEO or senior manager position, and having worked in the field for more than a decade also held sway.

When asked for the number one reason they used experts in their stories, almost 45 percent of journalists said it was to add established facts and figures, particularly in a matter that made them digestible for their audience. Significantly, another 35 percent said their primary motive was to add a third-party perspective to their stories.

“It’s important to understand that journalists, more than ever, are time poor,” Mr Hart said. “Newsrooms have been restructured and many journalists are now required to produce content for numerous channels. They need experts who are not only responsive and available, but who can also translate complex matters into simple grabs.”

Mr Hart said for industry professionals wanting to be seen as leaders, the message was clear: act quickly and speak simply.

“Once you’ve proven yourself to be an expert source to one journalist, you’re likely to be called upon by others,” Mr Hart said. “More than two-thirds of journalists said they were more likely to use an expert they had seen other media use.”

The 2016 BBS Media Survey collated the responses from more than 50 journalists from across Australia working across print, online, radio and television media.



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