A new survey of journalists from European independent agencies network Fincom Alliance investigates the real and perceived impact of the pandemic on both companies and media operating in and around the financial services sector.
This survey is the second part of an international study on the effects of the pandemic on companies and media from the financial industry. While the first survey was focused on the effects Covid-19 had on communication practices of financial companies, the second survey focuses on the media.
“People never tire of proclaiming the end of traditional news, and the demise of PR with it, but these surveys show that even in a time of great challenge and change, quality news and top-notch PR continue to be valued highly,” said Julian Rea, founder and managing director of Liminal, the UK agency in the Fincom Alliance, in a news release. “But we can’t get complacent—as ever, the hack-flak ecosystem continues to evolve, and PRs have to respond and adapt to make sure their approach matches the needs of journalists today; same old, same old doesn’t cut it in the new normal.”
A clear preference for personalized and informative content
Although there were some differences between countries, the researchers observe that the type of content that seemed the most relevant to financial sector journalists was comments on market scenarios, followed by insights and case studies. Perhaps surprisingly, press releases appeared to be the least preferred type of content when looking at the group as a whole.
On a country-by-country basis, data showed that expert insights were particularly popular among journalists from Portugal, Italy and the UK. Italian, Spanish and the DACH region’s respondents also appreciated comments on market scenarios, while press releases were ranked first mainly among French and British journalists.
In terms of quality and specificity of information, 62 percent of respondents claimed to prefer receiving all types of content and then picking what is more interesting to them, while 38 percent said they prefer receiving less content, but more informative. Finally, 30 percent indicated that they appreciate it when particular topics are suggested to them in a more personal and customized way.
An obvious and necessary shift to digital platforms
During the pandemic, not just traditional media but also social media have increased their influence, especially when it comes to communication activities. Although many journalists do not see social media as being the future of communication within the financial sector, almost 40 percent of respondents believed this channel gained influence during the pandemic and is relevant for their activities.
The shift from in-person meetings and conferences to digital ones, imposed by the pandemic, was considered useful or kind of useful by 67 percent of respondents, although 20 percent considered that improvements are needed for these tools to become a new standard.
Seventy percent of respondents see online conferences and webinars as being here to stay, continuing to be used and gaining influence over time. Where interviews and meetings are concerned, however, the overwhelming majority of respondents believe there will be a mix between digital and in-person interactions, when it comes to media relations.
Efficiency: a key characteristic for PR professionals
We added a few questions at the end of the survey in order to measure the perception of PR agencies’ work and activity by journalists. The majority of respondents revealed that they regularly contact PR agencies, although again we see differences between countries, with Spanish and French respondents being more reliant on PR professionals. Half of the respondent (51 percent) claimed that they were satisfied with the kind of information and quality of service provided by PR agencies.
Fifty-five percent of respondents ranked efficiency as the most appreciated characteristic of PR professionals, particularly in France, Portugal and UK. Italian respondents on their side, valued creativity, proactivity and knowledge of the financial sector equally.
The survey polled 76 journalists from eight European countries: France, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Germany and Switzerland.