How To Work With Journalists: PR Best Practices for 2021

Posted by Nora DePalma

Apr 6, 2021 7:19:40 PM

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It's almost always a long game, as you'll see below. Here's how to think about media relations for your business or cause. 

Four Fast Facts About Journalists from the MuckRack State of Journalism 2021  Report:

  1. Sixty-one percent (61%) of journalists agree  with the statement “The way most companies share information with the media is outdated."
  2. 94% of journalists want to be pitched specifically and exclusively--far exceeding the second preference, mass emails only at 18%.
  3. 50% of journalists write five or more stories per week. About 25% come from PR pitches.
  4. "Lack of personalization" and "bad timing" were the top two reasons why pitches were rejected.

 

Media Relations: How It Works

A "pitch" is a story idea that a public relations professional gives to a journalist. A pitch succeeds when a journalist believes the story idea will serve and engage the outlet's audience. 

Pitches are most likely to be successful when:

  • It's a story that adds an interesting and unique angle to a breaking news event (known as "newsjacking") or a larger societal trend. 
  • It's an innovative product or idea that will significantly impact the journalist's audience. 
  • It fits a planned editorial theme.

This is why we say media relations is a long game because aligning these factors typically takes time. 

 

How to Succeed At Media Relations in 2021

  1.  Develop your pitch like a journalist rather than a marketer. The art of shaping a story is not the same skill set as creating ad copy or sales collateral. 
  2. Develop relationships with journalists before pitching a story. Identify journalists who cover beats that are relevant to your storytelling and start following their work. Twitter is the most commonly used social network by journalists, making it a good platform to get to know journalists, although only 12% in the Muck Rack survey preferred to be pitched via Twitter.
  3. Research the journalist's body of work before pitching and be specific in your outreach as to why your pitch will benefit the outlet's audience. 
  4. Use email for your outreach vs. phone or social media. 
  5. Keep your pitch short--43% of journalists surveyed said they get 7-25  pitches per week,  while another 21% get 6-10 per week. Take time to craft a compelling subject line and opening line.
  6.  Most journalists say one email follow-up is OK if done within a week. 
  7. Limit e-blasts to journalists. A rare circumstance where eblasts do work is feature journalists covering beats like home and design products who opt-in to receive new product news. Even those journalists would prefer an exclusive for a truly breakthrough product, but many like to see the breadth of new offerings to spot trends. 

There are many more insights in the full Muck Rack State of Journalism report available for free at this link.

Visit Muck Rack and Download the Free Report

 

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Topics: Marketing How-Tos