Press relations is a vital tool in corporate communications, but one which business and financial journalists appear to undervalue.
Fewer than a third of financial journalists believe that press relations is an important factor in the judgements they make about companies, according to a poll released in December 2003 by the Mori Reputation Centre.
Furthermore, the percentage of these journalists who consider that the communications or information provided by financial PROs is important to their judgement is down 14 per cent on the previous year. If these trends continue, financial PROs might as well pack up and go home.
Such statistics, however, say as much about financial and business journalists as they do about the efficacy of financial PR. It is a well-worn cliche that, love or loathe each other, journalists need PROs and vice versa.
Although press relations may not feature very highly on the horizons of most City and business journalists, it is clear that few could do without it. Evening Standard City news desk editor James Armitage freely admits the advantages of working with a smoothly functioning press office.
'Because of our crazy deadlines, press relations is probably more important to us than some of the morning papers. We have to get clarification quickly,' he says.
Indeed, the disregard with which media relations is greeted by some business and financial journalists is more to do with the fact that desk editors are now used to professional dissemination of news and financial information.
'The most significant factor to influence our judgement is a company's financial performance, and our decision is really a question of looking through the company's financial accounts,' he adds. 'But the presentation of most financial information is fairly standard, and most companies are pretty good at doing this.'