Cision recently released its 2022 Global State of the Media Report, developed by surveying more than 3,800 journalists from 2,000+ news outlets across the globe. The annual report has long been a critical tool for our team at Greenough as it provides key, timely insights on the constantly changing media landscape, the challenges facing journalists today and best practices for pitching reporters and landing stories on behalf of our clients.
At Greenough, earned media continues to be one of our core offerings that clients depend on most. To meet their needs and expectations, we pride ourselves on hiring former journalists who have firsthand knowledge of storytelling from inside the newsroom. Therefore, we’re constantly in touch with producers, reporters and editors who’ve shared many of the sentiments included in this year’s report.
The following are our top 5 takeaways from the 2022 survey.
REPORTERS ARE FACING A WAVE OF NEW OBSTACLES
The news industry has changed dramatically in recent years – and so too has the role of the journalist. Reporters are frequently telling us they’re being asked to produce more content under tighter deadlines with limited resources. There are fewer single beat reporters than ever before as shrinking newsrooms have forced many reporters to take on additional reporting topics. And journalists told Cision their greatest challenge right now is fighting to maintain credibility as a trusted news source amid accusations they’re “fake news.” As Cision notes, there is an increased “pressure to perform” – and news bosses are watching audience engagement metrics like never before.
LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ALL ITS WORTH
Social media is a valuable tool for staying up to date on the news cycle, networking with reporters and keeping a close eye on the stories and topics they care about. Journalists most often use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and told Cision they’re using these platforms to publish and promote content as well as source or verify information. When asked how they feel about PR professionals reaching out directly by Direct Message (DM), opinions varied widely. Reporters will often note on their social media profiles whether their DMs are open to tips and pitches. In our experience, it can be a quick and easy way to get their attention and start a conversation. By reaching out to reporters through social media, we have built relationships with journalists across a variety of news organizations, from top-tier publications to local broadcast affiliates.
TO EARN COVERAGE, YOU MUST EARN RESPECT
The easier you can make a reporter’s job, the more likely you are to secure coverage and create long-lasting relationships. Journalists work extremely fast and have little patience for PR professionals pitching them if it’s clear they haven’t done their research about the reporter’s target audience or topics they find relevant. In fact, 63% of journalists say most of the pitches they receive are irrelevant and 74% went as far to say they’d block a PR professional for “spamming” them with irrelevant pitches. We’ve found that simply referencing a reporter’s previous reporting and outlining how it connects to the story being pitched can make the difference in earning coverage for a client.
NEWS RELEASES MATTER – BUT ONLY WHEN THEY’RE COMPELLING
Journalists are always looking for great stories to report on, but time is rarely in their favor. When it comes to press releases, many reporters have told us – and Cision – they generally only read the headline of a press release. If it’s not compelling and to the point, they move on. Therefore, it’s wise to use action words and avoid clichés, overused words and jargon. The more a press release reads like marketing materials, the more likely it will end up in a reporter’s email trash folder.
PITCHING REPORTERS IS AN ART
We believe that crafting pitches that lead to coverage is more of an art than a science. As Cision notes, Googling journalists’ profiles, reading their previous work, researching their publication’s editorial calendars and checking their location to make sure a pitch is relevant are all must-dos before reaching out. More than half of journalists told Cision that one follow-up note is enough, so if they haven’t gotten back to emails, they’re probably not interested. Reporters’ inboxes are flooded with pitches daily. That’s why we always make sure our pitches are direct, short and sweet – that goes a long way toward securing coverage.
Thanks to decades of combined experience in newsrooms, and firsthand knowledge of how stories are created and told, our media team is well-versed in pitching and building relationships with journalists. While it’s an acquired skill, these takeaways are critical to securing dream coverage for our clients.