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Email is the key for pitching to media
By Kim Harrison
Author and Principal of www.cuttingedgepr.com
Despite all the chatter about the importance of social media, traditional news media still command the largest audiences. And the most effective way to provide story ideas to journalists is through email pitches rather than social media.
A recent media survey provides some valuable highlights for communicators. Published in 2013, the Media Landscape Survey conducted by Flagler College and Dalton Agency, surveyed almost 1,500 respondent editors, reporters, producers, writers and others in US media outlets.
The survey found email pitches were the most common way to provide story ideas to reporters. PR professionals were 7 times more likely to propose a story idea by email than by phoning. Almost 60% of PR practitioners emailed story ideas compared with 9% via social media/wire services and 8% via phone calls/text messages.
Email was also the method most favored by reporters. Around 63% of reporters preferred email pitches compared with phone calls/text messages (5%), social media/wire services (3.5%) and letters (1%).
Most reporters (61%) used media releases to merely provide a useful topic for an article, and used some of the material in the ensuing story. Around 10% used about half of the information in a release and only 3% use a release virtually as received.
Lack of trust in media releases
A majority of reporters found at least some value in receiving media releases, but 40% didn’t trust them, 36% found them poorly written and almost 25% said too many releases arrived too late to be useful.
Reporters use social media to develop story ideas (30% use Twitter for this, 29% Facebook, 28% blogs and 12% YouTube.
Around 62% of respondents used social media to monitor a topic when working on a story either frequently or sometimes, while 38% said they used it infrequently or not at all to monitor a story topic.
PR relationships worthwhile
Around 53% of respondents said their relationship with PR professionals affected their decision to cover a story. This shows that building a relationship is a valuable way to offset the main objection to media releases, mentioned above, ie that 40% of reporters don’t trust the content. About 39% of respondents said having a positive relationship with a PR professional does not affect their covering of a story,
The most annoying thing for reporters was receiving pitches that are irrelevant to their ‘beat’ (47%), while the other two main annoyances were receiving repeated pitches of the same story (17%) and receiving pitch emails that contained poor spelling and grammar (10%).
Lessons for PR professionals
About the Author
Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website, www.cuttingedgepr.com, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.
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