The relationship between public relations (PR) specialists and journalists has always been a delicate dance. With the ever-changing pace at which audiences are digesting media, the need for public relations partners who understand journalists’ struggles and goals has become more crucial than ever. So what is the best way for the PR world to engage with journalists in 2022?
Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind for future outreach:
Cision’s annual Global State of the Media Report surveyed 3,800 journalists and revealed insights that PR professionals should consider when interacting with other professionals in media.
1. Exercise Empathy
In recent years, maintaining credibility and avoiding “fake news” accusations have become one of the biggest concerns for media outlets. This year, 57% of the journalists surveyed felt the public had lost trust in the media. As a PR professional pitching your story idea to a journalist, keep this concern top of mind and include helpful facts that will craft a credible story and save them valuable time.
Journalists are often working against tight deadlines and have to move quickly. More than half of journalists need PR pros to provide them with data and expert sources when they need them. The survey also revealed that 1 in 4 journalists will even block a publicist who fails to respond to them within the same day or by a given deadline.
The last thing you want to do when trying to establish a good working relationship with journalists is slow down their process.
While some journalists have to plan their stories or reports the same day, many outlets have a content strategy that they have been planning weeks or even months ahead. So don’t pitch a Father’s Day or Amazon Prime Day story the week before the respective event because, chances are, you have already missed the deadline. You want to ensure a writer has enough time to develop your pitch. Be ready to respond and provide more context whenever needed.
2. Be Personal
The overwhelming majority of journalists (91%) say only about half of the pitches they receive are relevant to their audience or sector. Do your homework to ensure your story angle aligns with the outlet and the journalist. Look at their social media to see what they are sharing, commenting on and posting about, and then use those insights to personalize your message to stand out in a crowded inbox.
Showing journalists that you have done your research will go a long way. In fact, this response was No. 1 on the wish list of 63% of the surveyed journalists.
Once your research phase is complete, don’t waste anyone’s time. Get to your point fast so an editor or writer can decide with minimal effort if your pitch is a good fit for their outlet and audience.
3. Get Graphic – Literally!
We know that journalists are increasingly focused on audience metrics and driving engagement with their content, so it makes sense that many are incorporating more multimedia into their stories. Not only do photographs, videos, audio clips, infographics and illustrations help make a story more vivid, they help increase consumer engagement.
Worldwide, 81% of journalists have recently used photos to complement content. Video is also popular (47%), followed closely by infographics (41%) and social media posts (39%). 54% of journalists say they would be more likely to cover a story if provided with multimedia.
However, if you are planning to include visuals in your pitch, make sure images are high-resolution and files are easy for the journalists to download. Use links instead of attachments, which take up a lot of space and are often flagged as spam. You don’t want to waste all of your energy sending a pitch that no one will ever open. If you want to go a step further, most outlets will provide guidelines on their websites — links vs. attachments, the file format and size, and so on —so be sure to look into it beforehand.
Delivering accurate and easily accessible content will help build trust with journalists and make them more likely to work with you in the future.
4. Read the Room
In the event that you’ve reached out to a journalist and haven’t heard anything back, it’s more than acceptable to follow up, but make sure you are not bombarding them. 55% of journalists say one follow-up is enough, and 14% say twice is okay.
While no one enjoys being ghosted, if you haven’t heard back, it’s possible the journalist either didn’t find your pitch relevant or couldn’t work it into their schedule. Regardless, it’s time to focus your sights on the next opportunity, because you don’t want to end up on anyone’s bad side. Nearly 1 in 2 (48%) journalists will block anyone who follows up repeatedly. So don’t hound anyone. Use your time and energy to find another contact who may be more receptive to your message.
Social media has become a great resource for PR professionals and journalists, but does this mean it’s ok to send pitches via social media? Still up for debate. While nearly 1 in 4 (23%) journalists find it to be acceptable—and 4% prefer it over any other method—1 in 3 (34%) say they don’t prefer it, and 12% will even block a PR pro who pitches them via social media.
So use your best judgment before sliding into a journalist’s DMs. If a writer seems to be very active on social media and shares recent articles, that’s usually a good sign that they wouldn’t mind discussing their work on the platform. On the opposing side, if their feed is filled with more personal or family-related content, stick with email outreach.
PR professionals and journalists rely on each other to do their jobs well. Understanding the other’s unique challenges, frustrations and preferred work methods will help you forge meaningful connections for future collaboration.
To learn more about Mindgruve’s PR offerings, contact us here.