How PRs Can Better Pitch Journalists

May 22, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Industries | Media & Entertainment | PR

Cision Improving Press Releases May2020A conversation with almost any journalist or editor (including the team at MarketingCharts) will reveal that they are inundated with irrelevant pitches from PR professionals. For stats that back this up, a global survey [download page] by Cision of journalists and other media professionals shows that only 1% of them say that at least three-quarters of the pitches they receive are relevant, and that’s while half (49%) receive more than 50 pitches each week. So what can PR pros do to make their pitches stand out?

Here are a few tips based on the report’s findings.

Understand the Audience

Writers of all persuasions – including content marketers – want to create content that is relevant for their audiences. So it comes as no surprise that, when asked for the number one thing that PR professionals could do to help journalists, the most common response was to understand their target audience and what they find relevant, with 37% responding as such.

This factor also came top when respondents were asked what information they wanted to see in pitches, with 44.7% indicating that the number one factor that would improve press release effectiveness is information that is relevant for their target audience. Other factors cited included the news hook being clearly stated (17.5%) and the pitch avoiding industry jargon and marketing language (14.7%).

Provide Press Releases and Spokespeople

Even though the media industry has changed dramatically, with newspapers and magazine revenues falling and media consumption shifting online, the traditional press release still holds value when pitching.

When asked which brand source is most useful to them, 36% of journalists surveyed chose press releases. A further 1 in 5 (19%) opted for spokespeople.

Press releases also hold value as, when asked to choose the most trustworthy non-brand source, 21.5% said they turn to the major wires, which can be used to distribute press releases. PR pros could also benefit from suggesting non-brand authorities when pitching, as 27.8% find face-to-face or telephone interviews the most trustworthy, while 19.6% cite known experts.

Time Pitches Appropriately – and Consider Weekends

Finally, it might be worthwhile for PR pros to think carefully about when they pitch journalists and others. While Monday is the preferred day for the greatest share (~30%) of respondents, this is also the day when they get pitches the most. However, later in the week, the number of pitches received declines faster than the preference for receiving them – and in fact, while fewer than 1 in 10 said they preferred pitches on the weekend, almost no pitches were received during this time. Therefore, PR pros may improve their chances of standing out if they reach out later in the week.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Based on a Q1 2020 survey of 3,523 respondents – primarily media professionals, but also influencers and bloggers (15% share). Respondents came from 15 countries, and the majority work in print (45%) or broadcast (19%).

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