Le monde selon Reuters

Yet again, thank to CNW, I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting event yesterday, this time with Robert Melnbardis in the offices of Thompson-Reuters. Melnbardis held court, covering a variety of topics centering around the ways in which Reuters is adapting to a media world in full technological mutation.

Take-aways :

  • Reuters is working with a new platform with bells and whistles that allows its journalists to follow stories of particular interest to them
  • We need to write releases with newsy headlines, because Reuters’ automated system is programmed to pick up content and publish it as-is on the Reuters site. These early texts are revised by journalists and editors in a second phase.
  • Stock code in release headlines is important (see above).
  • Hyperlinks are available on the Reuters platform and, in fact, they are able to receive full multimedia social media press releases.
  • Many of the headlines of generated in Reuters’ India offices, so, again, be sure to specify currency, as the default for $ is USD.
  • Simplify the process : get key messaging and facts as upfront as possible to make the journalist’s job easier
  • Reuters avoids the CEO quote, as they find them vacuous, not adding anything to the story.
  • Reuters will cover local stories, but only if they have global implications. While Robert used to cover the Montreal Jazz Fest, he doesn’t have the resources anymore. He will assign reporters to the Toronto Film Festival, however, because of its economic impact. This is where deals are made.
  • Reuters is always looking for experts, so are open to pitches of this kind
  • Context is vitally important to Reuters. For this reason, they will avoid unnamed sources and will not propagate rumours. They are very careful to specify sources, as well as situating quotes and facts in time.

Interesting for those of us looking at social media and social media press releases :

  • Reuters’ system already breaks our releases into point form key messages – the social media release would save them that step while allowing us to be clear about the messaging we’re trying to communicate.
  • Reuters is a media company which also sees itself as a tech company, constantly investing in new technologies
  • Robert believes that multimedia will become increasingly useful, as Reuters prepares to launch its new editorial software in the next few months, with more video and graphics.
  • Reuters is investing in citizen journalism. At the start of the war in Iraq, Reuters had 17 journalists on the ground. Since giving cameras to locals, they can now say that they have 150 people supplying them with photo and video.

Robert’s wish list for improving relationships with PR reps :

  • be easily accessible – give him your cellphone number
  • implement a call-back policy
  • be attributable
  • be clear and transparent
  • provide context (ex: if talking about layoffs, don’t just give numbers, but explain the impact as proportion of employees, financial impact etc)

The Reuters Summit is an opportunity for PR reps to have their CEOs sit down with Reuters journalists for a one-hour Q&A session. Upcoming summit sessions include Technology, Media and Telecom, happening in NYC, Paris and Tokyo. It is possible to participate in these sessions by telephone. These are by invitation only, but pitches help get you that precious invite, so be sure Reuters has your CEO on their radar screen.

A big thanks to Robert for taking the time. I’d encourage everyone who hasn’t visited a newsroom in the last couple of years … whether they be fresh-faced or consider themselves to be experts … to sign up for a tour as soon as possible. Technology is changing the way journalists are working and we’re going to be aware of these change if we want to keep up.

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