4 Things PR Professionals Should Know when Pitching News Stories

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By Jennifer Nelson, PCM®, Content Specialist

Cision’s power-packed 2019 Global State of the Media Report looks at the good and bad plaguing the world of journalism today. Its report provides great insight for PR professionals looking to increase the likelihood their pitch will turn into a story.  

The report covers a multitude of topics about social media impact, PR outreach, data-driven publishing and journalists’ shrinking resources. To the surprise of some, Cision says trust in the media might actually be on the rise. Allegations of news outlets reporting “fake news” and constant attacks on the media actually have driven a “massive rise in news engagement,” as people pay more attention to journalists and the information they provide. Fostering trust and reporting the truth have become the business model of journalism in 2019.

Here are the four key takeaways for PR professionals from the report.

Data Drives Content

The news is being delivered through ever-changing platforms, and journalists are making more data-driven decisions about the content they publish. Sixty-five percent of journalists feel the availability of audience metrics has changed the way they evaluate stories.  As they face pressure to drive readership, engagement and revenue, journalists are using analytics to create more impactful stories. Data allows media companies to understand who their audiences are and what they want to read.

Forty-three percent of journalists globally reported their organization’s primary measure of success for their content is readership or viewers. Companies will be using more data, such as keywords and view-time, to inform their development teams so they know which projects will be popular moving forward.

Social Media Losing its Luster

The relationship between the news media and social media has grown increasingly complex as more journalists now believe social networks are bypassing traditional media as a source of news, yet they realize they need social media to distribute content.

More journalists also believe social media algorithms will be the technology with the biggest impact on their work this year, the report says. However, because of changing algorithms and data privacy issues, publishers realize they can’t rely on Facebook as a consistent distribution platform. Journalists continue to use social media for real-time news updates but are mindful to not to put all their eggs in one social platform’s basket. Companies are encouraged to diversify their social amplification channels.

Fewer Staff, More Stories

Limited staff and resources are two of the top challenges facing journalists today. Newsroom employment continues to decline, and it’s also hitting digital-only publications. Pew Research Center has reported nearly a quarter of digital-only outlets have suffered layoffs since 2017. Shrinking newsrooms have led to more work for journalists with less time to prepare.

As a result of fewer journalists on staff, more than one third of journalists globally publish more than seven articles a week. Forty-two percent plan their stories no more than a day in advance of publication. PR professionals should be mindful of these tight deadlines and have all their pitch materials ready to share quickly to meet journalists’ shrinking deadlines.

Irrelevant Pitches Plague Newsrooms

This one is essential for PR professionals to remember. As a result of these changes in the newsroom, PR outreach needs to be more relevant and targeted to stand out. Seventy-five percent of journalists say fewer than a quarter of the pitches they receive are relevant or useful. PR professionals either don’t know or don’t understand the target audience of the journalist they’re pitching.

For PR teams to deliver pitches that are more likely to become a story, they must start by understanding the audience and what topics interest them. Sixty-five percent of journalists would rather receive customized press releases for their target audiences than one mass-audience press release.

To learn more, you can download the State of the Media Toolkit from Cision on their website. If you have any questions about how to pitch your idea for a news story, contact us.


Jennifer Nelson