VNRs: just the fax, please says TV newsroom survey

DALLAS: Want to get the attention of your local television station's newsroom? Start working the fax machine.

DALLAS: Want to get the attention of your local television station's newsroom? Start working the fax machine.

This was one of the findings revealed in a recent survey of TV newsrooms by Dallas-based VNR-1 Communications.

VNR-1, a PR broadcast company, found that 95% of TV newsrooms prefer receiving VNR notification via fax, compared to a mere 1% that favors wire-service announcements.

The survey, which covered 206 TV newsrooms in the nation's top 50 markets between June 1 and June 11, found that 86% of respondents received VNR notification via fax, up 17% from 1998. More surprisingly, in spite of the proliferation of e-mail, Web sites, and wire services, the percentage of newsrooms preferring to receive fax notification continues to rise steadily.

VNR-1 president Jack Trammell said the company began polling TV newsrooms in 1996 to determine the best method for VNR notification, and is as surprised as anyone else by the fax-friendly findings. Initially, 'We wanted a barometer of when stations wanted to start getting e-mail notification,' he said.

Instead, the company found out that generally only the highest-level executives receive e-mail.

Because faxes are printed on paper, they tend to get passed around the office more often, Trammell said. Furthermore, VNR notifications delivered via wire services often get lost among the massive volume of information arriving over the wire. 'The biggest problem about the wires is that your VNR notification is one of hundreds of thousands of things that are coming across.'

Larry Thomas, director of new media at PR Newswire, did not dispute that a large number of TV newsrooms prefer to receive VNR notification via fax. Still, Thomas believes that as the Web continues to evolve, there will be a shift toward receiving information via the Internet.

'I look at the functionality that the Web provides. Once people see how valuable it can be, they're not going to look back,' he said.

The VNR-1 survey also found that 48% of TV newsrooms were notified of VNRs via the telephone in 1999, compared to 5% in 1998. 'Everyone wants to go higher-tech, but newsrooms believe in dumb,' Trammell explained.

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