Predictably, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes to the scope of news reporting everywhere. For instance, the 2021 Muck Rack State of Journalism survey responses showed that 51% of the 2,482 reporters from the US (68%) and other countries (32%) estimated that “some” of their reporting had pivoted to angles related to COVID-9, while 39% said “most”. Around 65% covered more stories “about COVID-19 and/or health and wellness” while 33% also said they were covering more stories about remote work and/or virtual communication. Overall, the survey confirmed that email is still the best way of pitching stories to news media.
Reflecting the changing structure of the journalism employment, the biggest proportion (42%) mainly reported in online-only media, 34% in print, and 18% in broadcast. They were journalism pros: about 63% of the respondents were full-time journalists, editorial writers or bloggers, and 20% were full-time freelancers. Around 52% were aged 40+ years, while 60% had been working in journalism for 10+ years. Scope of the respondents’ coverage (some in more than one category): 47% local or regional, 44% national, 36% international, and 8% trade.
Despite all the chatter about the importance of social media, traditional news media still command the largest news audiences. And the most effective way to provide story ideas to journalists is through email pitches.
Recent media surveys provide some valuable highlights for communicators. The Muck Rack State of Journalism report 2021 found targeted (“1:1”) email by far the preferred channel to receive pitches (94%). Every other channel was disliked, on balance, as in the table below. Total number of respondents was 2,482, who were surveyed in Jan-Feb 2021.
Most reporters use media releases to merely provide a useful topic for an article, and they use some of the material in the ensuing story. Content should be tailored for target audiences. 65% of journalists would rather receive customized press releases, than one mass-audience release. If offered an exclusive, 78% of journalists surveyed by Muck Rack said they were much more likely or somewhat more likely to cover a story. The survey confirms the view that email pitching stories to news media is the best way to achieve a response from journalists.
The most preferred time for receiving email pitches is morning 68% (early morning 5am-9am 34%, and late morning 9am-12pm also 34%). Overnight pitches (11pm-5am) were preferred by 12%, and afternoons were preferred by only 16% (early afternoon 12pm-3pm 10%, and late afternoon 3pm-6pm 6%). Ideal pitch length was <100 words (2-3 sentences) preferred by 25%, 100-200 words 46%, 201-300 words 20%, 300-1,000 words 8%.
About 86% of journalists said they didn’t mind receiving a follow up within one week to a pitch they didn’t initially respond to.
Use of social media
Reporters use social media to develop story ideas and to monitor a topic when working on a story. When reporting on a company, 45% said they usually consult the company’s social media as part of their background checking, while 28% said “Sometimes”. A total of 62% said they track how many times their stories are shared on social media.
The most annoying thing for reporters was receiving pitches that are irrelevant to their ‘beat,’ while the other two main annoyances were receiving repeated pitches of the same story and receiving pitch emails that contained poor spelling and grammar.
Why do you immediately reject otherwise relevant pitches?
You can read more about successful pitching of news stories to journalists in my article, “Following up media pitches is a key PR role.”
By Silvia Arto, Vice President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Chair of the European Regional
Given the information and communication technologies available, you can foster business communication through a number of tools. Among them are
Remote work has become the norm for many organizations across the globe because it can benefit employers as well as