Ten years ago, the internet was a different place: Instagram had just launched, Twitter had just reached 50 million tweets per day (10% of today’s rate) and we were still “poking” people on Facebook. Even more notably for PR professionals, the way that the public gets their news has changed drastically since then. Pew Research Center stated in June 2020 that nearly one in five Americans primarily get their political news through social media, compared to 2010, when they reported that only 2% rely exclusively on the internet for their daily news.
Cision is an earned media and public relations software provider that we at Communiqué PR use to identify target publications and build press lists. Cision has been publishing their State of the Media Reports every year since 2010, a result of a survey sent to journalists, supplemented by observations they make through the year. My colleague summarized their 2020 State of the Media report this past May.
This year, as a treat, Cision also shared A Decade’s Worth of Insight Into Media Preferences, covering their 11 reports and highlighting trends and differences. I’ve summarized some of the top tips and takeaways:
Communicating with Journalists
When reaching out to a journalist, use email. Cision’s reports emphasize this point, stating that brief, well-crafted emails are the least time-consuming and easiest to digest. Emails have the added benefit of allowing you to attach helpful documents, multimedia or links, add people to the email chain, and set messages to arrive in the journalists’ inbox at certain times. Contacting journalists through social media direct messaging is less versatile, harder to keep track of and may encroach on their personal lives, while phone calls are often described as disruptive. No response? A follow-up email brings attention but avoid sending more than one as any others are often perceived as unwelcome.
Perfecting your Pitch
To entice your journalist, recognize their journalistic interests and read their past work. Research the outlet and make sure your pitch complements the topics they write about. The email you send should be personalized and specific to the writer you’re approaching, with a pitch that makes sense for their outlet and, ideally, has a distinct, newsworthy angle. Avoid industry jargon, click-bait language and meaningless buzzwords.
Create Trusted Content
Cision’s recommendations over the years have changed for this area – the rise of “fake news” beliefs have falsely positioned the media against the public in many cases. After peaking in 2017, this impact has faded somewhat, causing 21% of Cision’s 2020 survey respondents to posit that the idea of “fake news” is actually increasing the importance of journalistic standards. To support journalists in their quest for the truth, offer industry experts, statistics, and other sources when you make your pitch.
Help your Journalist
As news and content progressively moves online, budgets are shrinking, and staffing has become a large problem for publications, only compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession. To give your pitch the best chance of getting published, it’s important to do some of the legwork and get the journalist information well in advance of their deadlines, if possible. Provide the news angle, an excellent quote, a multimedia asset, access to your experts, tailored messaging, and be available to answer their questions about the industry and the company you represent.
While the way we read the news has changed in the last 10 years, the way PR professionals should communicate with journalists has largely remained constant. In another 10 years, PR may be more influencer-focused, robots may write more press releases, and AI may know more about the audience, but I’m guessing we’ll still need to communicate with journalists professionally, truthfully, and helpfully for them to effectively report on our important stories.Tags: Best Practices of Pitching, Cision, Email pitching, Journalist follow up, Journalists, personalizing pitches, Pitching ideas