Monday, 6 July 2009

Are you using more PR material than ever before?

Apparently media are using more press releases than last year: could it be related to number of job cuts?

Journalists in the region are using press releases more often than they did in 2007, although many reporters still feel they receive a disproportionate number of irrelevant emails from public relations executives, according to the MediaSource/Insight Middle East Journalist Survey 2009.

In 2007, when MediaSource/Insight Middle East conducted its first survey, 58 percent of pollsters said they use none or less than 10 percent of the press releases emailed to them, compared with 45 percent in 2009.

“The ‘most irritating practice’ for both the Arabic and English media remains the sending of irrelevant press releases, just as it was in our 2007 survey,” said Ben Smalley, managing director of MediaSource.

“The survey reveals a pressing need for PR practitioners to become more targeted and develop a greater understanding of the subjects covered by the media outlets they are dealing with, rather than adopting a scattergun approach to distribution,” he adds.

The survey also found that while 63 percent of English-language journalists working in the Middle East say that the quality of journalism in the region is improving, only 22 percent believe the level of reporting is either ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’ , compared with 47 percent of Arabic journalists.

MediaSource/Insight Middle East surveyed 219 journalists working for Arabic and English-language print, broadcast and online media in 13 countries across the Middle East.

Are you using more PR material to fill space, or do you think the quality of press releases is worse than ever?


EmiratesMac said...

I understand the temptation to publish a press release as news and I accept it if it's clearly marked as a press release. We've done that on although we've pretty much stopped now. We've never done it in the magazine however and I dare say we never will. But when a word-for-word copy of a press release is published as "news" written by "staff writer", then something is seriously wrong.

As an editor/writer of a magazine with 100 pages and with only one other part time writer it's tough to produce enough articles. But I can only believe that those who keep doing it with integrity will be more successful in the long run. As a reader I know I don't want to read press releases.

Anonymous said...

Can I use this survey in print? Where can I find the release?


Anonymous said...

I've never heard a journalist claim they couldn't do their job without press releases. They wouldn't, would they?
Lies, damned lies and polls etc etc.
Is it true that Campaign has been 'suspended' as part of the Motivate slashing of titles by the way?

Anonymous said...

Can't we talk about Marty a bit more please?

Anonymous said...

This forum is well and truly dead. :)

EmiratesMac said...

Perhaps it's just that it's summer and people are away from Dubai....

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how much weight I would place on this press release. The fact of the matter is, newspapers are publishing more content than before. Some, to make up for lost advertising space. So, more press releases get published.

Besides, isn't this the same Brian whom I've overheard tell someone, when asked why he didn't have more PR companies in his book, "Fuck them!"

Yeah.. that's him.

Anonymous said...

To Emirates mac:
Maybe it's because all the journos have been made redundant, or are on reduced hours/reduced pay/

Generally the media in Dubai (especially) is very poor, it's common and in many ways encouraged practice for Gulf News, Khaleej Times, ITP/CPI/Motivate to just regurgitate press releases as 'news'.

Anonymous said...

Not surprising really, when you get a press release on a dubious Dubai restaurant called the 'Ping Pong' serving, 'chicken wanton soup'.

Anonymous said...

Having taken part in the survey, the question is a bit ambiguous - but I understood it to mean that 'using a press release' means it generated a story that I didn't have otherwise. It doesn't necessarily mean the press release was published verbatim as some of the comments above imply (and some publications sadly do). But yes, I do sometimes use press releases to generate stories - although not as stories themselves. Getting other opinions and angles makes it a story if it is about an interesting subject, but yes I did use the press release in the first place!

Anonymous said...

17:33 - good point, well made

Anonymous said...

oh, and how did emiratemac get a picture. the wider DMO public need to know...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, Mr Bhoyrul following his master's voice, what a surprise. See halfway down this article from today's Guardian.

Richard Desmond in '11th-hour dash to visit Conrad Black' before libel trialDesmond flew to prison in Florida to try to persuade Canadian tycoon Black to release documents
Buzz up!
Digg it
Helen Pidd, Tuesday 14 July 2009 17.20 BST
Article history

Richard Desmond last week rushed to the US to try to visit Conrad Black in jail before the start of his libel battle with biographer Tom Bower, the high court heard today.

Last Thursday Desmond flew to the low-security prison in Florida where the Canadian tycoon is being held in the hope that he would release documents that might help his case, the jury was told.

Desmond, the owner of the Daily Express, Daily Star and OK! magazine, is suing Bower over a paragraph in a biography he wrote about Black, one of Desmond's main business rivals when he owned the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. In the passage, Bower suggested Desmond had been "ground into dust" and humiliated by Black.

But despite making the long journey to Florida, Desmond was unable to gain access to Black, the court heard.

Ronald Thwaites, QC for Bower, asked Desmond what his main purpose was in attempting to visit Black. "To see how he was," said Desmond, adding: "He had offered his help to state that I had not been crushed by him in mediation [when the pair were arguing about their joint ownership of the West Ferry printing plant] … and that we had a good business relationship."

Desmond asked lawyers to make certain documents available to him, but his request was denied, the jury heard. But Desmond said he corresponded with Black via letter and email, and said, "[Black] wished me good luck with [the libel action]."

Black, too, has launched a libel action against Bower, this time in the Canadian courts, for allegations made in the same unauthorised biography, Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge.

The court also heard that David Hellier, a former editor of the Sunday Express media pages, had issued a statement in 2002 via the National Union of Journalists complaining about "editorial interference in supposedly independent journalism" at the title, which is owned by Desmond.

Thwaites said that Hellier was told to write a "knocking article" about Black, containing "all the shit". It was to be "as black as he could make it", and was to hint at murky mafia connections.

The article, said Thwaites, was commissioned by editor Martin Townsend at Desmond's behest. But rather than write the piece, Hellier called in sick. [b] It was eventually written by former Daily Mirror journalist Anil Bhoyrul, who wrote 26 negative stories about Black in the Sunday Express between September 2001 and May 2003, the court heard. [/b]

Thwaites accused Townsend of being a "compliant editor" who did as he was told by Desmond. "I suggest that your dislike of Conrad Black was well known within your organisation," said Thwaites.

But Desmond told the jury he had a "friendly business relationship" with Black, and denied ordering the article Hellier refused to write.

Desmond said: "I gave no orders. I give no orders on the editorial. The editor decides what goes in the papers."

"Are you a man who holds a grudge?" Thwaites asked him under cross-examination. "No," said Desmond. "Are you prepared to attack people through your newspaper?" asked the QC. Desmond said "no".

Desmond said a proprietor never meddled with editorial policy, and gave an example of how this could be awkward in practice – when the editor of the Express Peter Hill decided the paper should support the Conservative party despite Desmond being "quite pally" with Tony Blair at the time. "It was a bit embarrassing, but [Hill] said 'I'm the editor'," Desmond told the jury.

The case continues.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, mods, but compelling reading here: Apparently this issue is not on sale in Dubai.

Anonymous said...


When was the last time you actually read the KT? You accuse the paper of 'actively encouraging' reporters to rewrite press releases.

Are you 15 years old? What newspaper in the world actively encourages the use of press releases?

The KT is the underdog in the market, for sure, but the journos there sweat their arses off to produce original and well-researched stories - and most of the time scoop the opposition as well.

So all you rich cunts who work at the National can stick your one-byline-a-month worklife up your arses.

Individual reporters are judged on the quality of their own dogged reporting, not on the budgets of their executives.

Anonymous said...

Dubai - the planet's biggest Ponzi scheme...

Anonymous said...

National is a joke and a waste of money.

Anonymous said...


KT's lead biz story once was a press release that had a byline - one that others rejected.

No, I am not from the National either before you start waving your flags.

I get releases everyday and it is interesting to see how many of them end up with bylines in other papers.

releases are fine when well-written - not much of that here though.

as for comparing wire news with releases, if you actually read wire news, most of them have a set format - attention grabbing first para, a quote from an analyst/s and cliched standard background pasted at the end.

say, did I give the game away? wicked me.

of late, agencies pick up stories from the dailies a day or week later. This is not just in Dubai. the rest who are griping here are not from the media obviously or dont read anything other than their own writing

Anonymous said...

let me give you some stat, KT subscription is about 49K and gulf news is about estimates suggest that KT loss of subscribers is about 3K while for GN is about 10K+. GN still prints about 150K every day and KT about 100K. and national???? I have heard that their recent subscription drive was a complete flop.

Anonymous said...

Khaleej Times would never just run a press release and call it a story.

Except for this story (see press release here), or this one (press release here), or maybe this one (press release here).

Examples of KT scoops would be welcomed.

That's all just on July 18.

Anonymous said...

"Journos there sweat their arses off to produce original and well-researched stories - and most of the time scoop the opposition as well".

The KT? Hahahaha! Without a shadow of a doubt, the KT is the worst rag I have ever encountered in my life. It's so rubbish, it can't even be utilized in the bathroom. Designed by the visually impaired, with content supplied by student journos from Huddersfield, and halfwits from rubbish regional regs in India, this waste of a rainforest makes The Daily Sport look like The New York Times. Utter, utter garbage. The only 'scoops" it gets are of the poop variety, the launch of a new blender, or an interview with the regional manager of some crap japanese car manufacturer. Next !

EmiratesMac said...

So if it's common practice in media to publish press releases as news. presumably either to save time (and money) or just because of laziness, then how does someone who wants to do the right thing compete? Do the readers care or are they happy enough with the press release stuff?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Khaleej Times is carp, but KT guys get around dirhams 7,000 to produce crap while National guys get dirhams 27,000 but they still produce crap, so you decide who is a bigger drain on the company.

Anonymous said...

This is a bit like arguing Qatar is the richest country in the world.

You could argue it was with its very high GDP per capita. However the external value or influence of that is very low.

Alternatively, you could say the US is the richest country in the world.. where GDP per capita is lower, but total GDP much higher.

It may well be true that per capita the KT breaks more stories, but frankly for your average punter that is pretty meaningless.

Even if, as the rumours suggest, National staff spend most of their time doing nothing, with 20,000 of them, well, what was that story about monkeys producing Shakespeare?

Anonymous said...

You can say whatever you want about the KT.

Sure the National is a better design, sure GN has an inexplicably loyal readership.

But where's the romance of being on the winning team all the time?

While most of the time we fuck it up, those precious few occasions we get it right, and do better than those who have dozens more reporters than us, are priceless.

I don't expect any of you to understand what it means to succeed against the odds. Or to have a business desk staffed by three reporters.

I'm not saying that the KT is perfect, or a serious challenger for being the best in the market. But for being where it is, through the efforts of a handful of hardworking hacks, the KT is the real hero.

Anonymous said...

could someone pls explain the subscription figures for the leading newspapers. how do all these newspapers get delivered? having visited abu dhabi i know there are no addresses, only po box numbers. who delivers all these papers and how? could someone explain. thanks.

Anonymous said...

aw bless... (wipes tears from eyes)

I was going to say something sarcastic and acerbic about KT - perhaps pointing out that a mere desire to occasionally get an original news story right shouldnt be a cause for celebration - but that last post just sapped me of desire. Who would want to kick a brave underdog like KT after all?

Anonymous said...

shouldn't this guy be put in jail??

Anonymous said...

Having seen KT and the other two, I'd say KT has bad subs but good stories. It's not even to the reporters' credit, it seems to have information systems which let news filter in from emirates other than Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It also has journalists who know their beat from the sheer effort of having worked it for a decade.
In a normal place that would count for a lot. In a media scene or at least the blog domiated by those who couldn't name three areas in Deira or all the emirates its not likely to count for anything. After all, The National's news editor's path breaking story, which may have landed him this job, was on the calory content of burgers (with a close shot of the burger).

Anonymous said...

The National's subscription "techniques," explained:
You can extrapolate this information from the web metrics data. If you look at the web users, between 10-20k unique, you can see that ADMC would need 4-8 times as many people subscribing to the printed paper as look at the website (not total sold, but subscribers). You can pull these data from a number of web traffic analytics companies. That is unheard of anywhere. Nobody in the world has eight times as many daily subscribers as people checking the (free) website. Even in a country with terrible web speeds, there is no way the Nat is pulling in 8x as many subscribers as unique pageviews.
Some case studies: 25 million (October 2008)
The Guardian: 335k
. 18 million (December 2008)
NY Times: 1 million
You can check this link to see what I mean:
Link to an analysis comparing and
When viewed as a percentage of bounce hits the National has a staggering number compared to the or any website for that matter. Bounce hits are one of the best metrics to determine advert revenue rate of return. A bounce hit registers when a person lands on one page and then leaves without viewing anything else. Running a 60% bounce rate is mad. Above 80% won't even register because of what is called statistical "fat-tailing." Nearly every one of hits is leaving after viewing just one or maybe even NO pages. Because of how hits are computed, a hit could be registered even if the browser doesn't have anything on the screen. This is especially true if you run metric data through Google Analytics (which the National does. You can see the applet on the source code of the page). The Javascript that runs Google Analytics will log a hit even if the server that is sending the data can't manage to send the page fast enough to prevent a timeout.
If somebody were really interested in this they could pull the data from Nielsen to see what Nielsen quotes as an ask price for a banner ad and compare it to what the National actually charges. I'll bet you a dirham that the two don't match up at all. Only in this country could charge anything near what the does.
Forget the sycophantic, maudlin nonsense about which paper has more heart or whose reporters work harder. The real question is: since the ranks in the top 5000 most viewed websites and barely cracks the top 40,000, is the Nat charging 1/6 the price for adverts? And, what cunt would ever pay parity to post an advert in
Even if The National didn't recycle last year's news and was, instead, churning out mountains of fresh original copy every single day that was groundbreaking and investigative and so on... even then, what would it matter if there are no eyes on that copy. Newspapers are a business (most are) and at the rates the National is running—even using their own quoted figures of 80k daily and the best case web data—there is no possible way they are even covering their fixed costs. It's a vanity rag. But, then again, if bad press is costing your Sovereign Wealth Fund Dhs800 billion a year because your bond issues are getting less than investment grade, then Dhs10 billion on a really well crafted, daily press release trumpeting your business acumen is money well spent. You can't buy that kind of... oh right, you can buy it—even if nobody else does.

Anonymous said...

EmiratesMac. you are with a mag so you have plenty of time to write.

newspapers use releases because we cant be everywhere. and some companies only talk thru the release because of the strong pr firms who are gods now that again, companies dont advertise.
with the recession, most do not want to talk to press.

besides shuffle looks like one big product plug. the layout looks like a Rorshach ink blot test with two languages on every page.

apart from that, chill guys. I want to see the number of exclusives in August and Ramadan. pls dont use press releases then.

EmiratesMac said...

"Anonymous" @ 12:57, thank you for your constructive criticism. You're more than welcome to come our office and help us out with design, editorial, and whatever else you feel like. It seems like you know exactly what Shufflegazine should be so we look forward to your input.

Anonymous said...

to start with, separate English from Arabic.
two, keep products separate at the end of the mag or in a section.
just walk to any mag rack in any store and see for yourself.
I dont think you have been long in journalism or you would not ask the obvious..

Anonymous said...

07:22 - Someone knows their shit. Of course you are relying on Alexa for your ranking, which is a bit suspect to say the least.

You are also assuming that the most important thing for an advertiser is volume. For marketers I think you will find it is more about the quality of audience. (Or should be.)

Frankly, paying for 1,000,000 banners hitting a demographic that has no resonance with a brand, is a big waste of money.

I am not saying the National has a better audience than Gulf News. But I think it may be quite different, and for a certain advertiser, at least 6 x more valuable.

That said I think you make some brilliant points, exceptionally well - which is something for this blog. The power of inertia works very much to Gulf News' advantage.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 7:22

You make a lot of good points re The National's inflated subscription figures, and i suspect theyre including free copies in the overall circulation. As does Arabian Business and pretty much all the tinpot mags and newspapers in the region.

However, you're a bit lost when you say that Gulf News should make 6 times more on ads than The National, simply because they have six times more readers.

Ad revenue depends on the readership, and while im inclined to believe The National undoubtedly gets indirect state support from government-linked entities that are mandated to advertise at inflated rates, the readership of The National is far "better" than that of Gulf News.

For example, the Financial Times and the Economist charge far more than the Sun and The National Enquirer, simply because their readers are on average far more affluent.

I would have thought this was pretty obvious.

Anonymous said...

Please explain "better" readership. If this is in consumer terms I am assuming you are talking about people who spend money... Is there a demographic breakdown available for this?

Do Arabic papers charge 6 times of what Gulf News charges? Would be nice to know.

Also one the previous post populated by National staff someone is claming that even small groceries stock the paper. So where is this better readership located?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

So either EmiratesMac is running DMO or has a friend there. hence the profile pixs and the only one to have a link within a thread that links back to his mag site.

see below - 'someone does not like Shuffle...' rofl

However, EmiratesMac, you forgot one thing to your site. to add my 'annonymous' constructive comments posted later on what has to be improved in Shuffle. they are valid even if I chose to remain annonymous.

as for my experience - around 20 years in the industry. Maybe, I should put in a few more to qualify in your eyes.

EmiratesMac said...

It's pretty simple "anonymous", I'm the only one not being anonymous here so far :-) The link you refer to I assume is a trackback from our site so nothing special there.

Your comments might be valid but that's hard to judge since we don't know who you are. And whether you have 20 years of experience or not doesn't really matter if you don't reveal who you are.

Our offer stands. Come to our office and help us out since you seem to think we need it badly :-)

Anonymous said...

Like I said earlier. You work with a mag. I work with a daily.

you seem to know what you dont want as a reader, why the dailies must not use press releases and sing about integrity.

Yet even after clearly mentioning what has to be changed in Shuffle in the first and second post, you ignore the obvious and ask me to come to office and redo your mag.

So what do they pay you for EmiratesMac? rofl...

Anonymous said...

New thread - Gulf News to pay £1m in libel damages...

Anonymous said...


there i said it you bunch of moaning cunts.

EmiratesMac said...

Well, anon @ 9:29, I guess we have very different views of what's been happening here...

Anonymous said...

Why does a large black screen appear across the story everytime I try to follow a link from the home page of the National? Surely they don't expect you to subscribe to the online edition?

Anonymous said...

PR person: "Did you get the press release I have sent you?"
journalist: " No, when have you sent it?"
PR person:"I am sending it now."
journalist slams the phone. the minute a PR person starts to really know his job, he becomes too good for it and get either promoted to a senior position he/she is under-qualifies for it or the insightful statements that comes from her/him.Then we get back to a newbie who learns by driving us nuts daily.

Anonymous said...

PR companies? As in Pathetic and Rubbish?!