As anyone in PR can tell you, earning media coverage these days can be a challenge. With newsrooms shrinking and journalists being asked to do more, getting a pitch to stand out is TOUGH.
Each year, the folks at Muck Rack conduct a survey of journalists to ask about their preferences and how they find ideas and sources for stories. Let’s take a look at the most recent results, which were recently released.
Whether you’re doing your own PR or working with an in-house team, a consultant or an agency, these findings will help you understand how reporters work and what you can do to help increase the odds that your story or news is covered.
What Do Reporters Really Want?
Here’s the Who, Where, When, What, Why and How to help you perfect your earned media outreach.
Is Social Media Activity Important to Your PR Efforts?
Is it news that journalists are looking at their sources on social media? It shouldn’t be.
If you want more media coverage, be active on social media. More journalists than ever – 60% — said they consult a company’s social media in their reporting. What happens if they visit your social media accounts and see no recent activity? It may be viewed as a negative. (This article talks about why you should be sure to have your social media house in order before pitching the media.)
Another reason to be active on social media is that when a journalist does cover your company, you can share the story – and tag the journalist and the publication when you thank them. 64% of journalists say they track how often their stories are shared on social media platforms.
Which Social Media Outlet Is Preferred by Journalists?
Twitter remains the social platform at the top of journalists’ lists.
When asked which social network is most valuable to them as journalists, it wasn’t even close – 77% said Twitter. Facebook came in second at 39%.
What does this mean? If you want to conduct effective media relations, you should be active on Twitter. In fact, 39% said they plan to spend even MORE time on Twitter this year.
“There’s no substitute for Twitter, and I honestly can’t imagine doing my job without it,” said Amanda Terkel, editorial director at Huffington Post.
Now, I know Twitter is not for everyone. I have B2B clients who don’t like it – and when I speak about PR at events and mention Twitter, I sometimes get questions about why reporters use Twitter because it’s so “negative.”
The fact remains that if you’re in PR and you want to conduct effective media relations, Twitter is a must – because it’s where the reporters are.
When – and How – Should You Pitch Journalists?
There’s always a debate about when to pitch journalists. Unsurprisingly, most journalists prefer pitches sent early in the week, in the early or later morning (67%).
Email is the clear winner when it comes to which channel reporters prefer. 94% say a one-to-one email is the best way to pitch them.
This shouldn’t be confused with a mass email, which is never a good idea. The “spray and pray” method of pitching reporters probably never worked very well – and now it’s viewed with disdain by most journalists.
As you compose your pitch, keep it brief. Many journalists feel pitches are too lengthy. Long paragraphs can be an immediate turnoff, said Oliver Darcy of CNN during Muck Rack’s webinar last week. “What’s the headline, what’s the story in 10 words…so many times I see these LONG paragraphs,” said Darcy.
Also, remember that reporters receive A LOT of pitches. 50% of those surveyed say they receive 1 to 5 pitches per day. Darcy said he received “hundreds” of pitches every week.
Some encouraging news here: 59% of journalists said a quarter of their stories originate from pitches, illustrating that those who read them do in fact use at least some of them.
What About Following Up with Reporters?
Is it OK to follow up after sending a pitch or story idea? While I’ve heard some say they don’t follow up, the answer is that you should. 90% of journalists say at least one follow-up email is acceptable. 49% of those prefer just one follow-up.
Think about your own inbox. How many times do you miss a message on the first try? But when a follow-up is sent, you may be more likely to respond.
One caveat here is how soon you follow up. 52% say 3 to 7 days is the preferred amount of time to follow up after the initial pitch is sent. Whatever you do, “Don’t send a press release and then call and ask if we got a press release,” Terkel advises.
Read the Full Report for More Media Pitching Nuggets of Goodness
If you want to learn more about journalists’ preferences, you can reference the full report here: https://muckrack.com/blog/2022/03/15/state-of-journalism-2022
Or listen to the webinar:
If you need help with your media outreach efforts, get in touch.
Image by C.A.D.Schjelderup – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47462590