Cision recently released its annual State of the Media Report, which uncovers the latest trends and challenges facing the media industry, and how PR professionals can work with their journalist counterparts better.
As a follow-up, we had the pleasure of speaking with an expert panel of journalists to see how the media landscape has changed from their point of view. We were joined by Anthony Ha, senior writer at Tech Crunch, Julie Carl, senior editor at the Toronto Star, and Sarah Paynter, reporter at Yahoo! Finance.
While we covered much of the contents of our 2020 State of the Media Report, there were a few key takeaways for PR professionals. (You can watch the full recording of the panel discussion here.)
1. A high bar for anything related to COVID-19
It isn’t a secret that COVID-19 has completely turned our lives upside down, including the lives of the media. “This pandemic has covered how unprepared we all were for this,” said Carl. For the foreseeable future, we can’t escape novel coronavirus news, so how do we learn to work with it?
“It’s changed the way we virtually look at any kind of story,” Ha said. “For a lot of PR people, a big part of their job is pitching their clients as subject matter and thought leaders — I would encourage them to try and apply a higher bar for anything COVID-related. There’s a thin line between being helpful and trying to hitch a line to this global tragedy; no one is an expert in COVID.”
2. Time for PR pros to go the extra mile.
Journalists are constantly inundated with hundreds of pitches every day, so what’s a good way to make sure that your pitch gets noticed? One way is to send your pitches at a different time other than the start of the week. Paynter said that Mondays are the days she gets the most emails, with fewer and fewer coming throughout the rest of the week. The day of the week that you send your pitch can make all the difference.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Ask yourself: What does that person currently cover? How has it changed since the COVID-19 outbreak? And will they be drawn to my pitch? (Is it of interest to their audience right now?)
- Consider sending something that is trending, especially if you notice that it’s something a journalist covers often.
- Start a relationship before you pitch — genuinely reach out and check in with journalists. See how they’re doing and how you might be able to help them in today’s landscape.
And check in even if you don’t have something to pitch; that’s how real human relationships work. As Ha put it: “Journalists are people, not receptacles for pitches.”
“Something I appreciate is when a PR pro has clearly done their research and included stats and facts. If you convince me that something is a trend and why it should be written about, that boosts your chances of getting covered,” said Carl. “If it’s not accurate it’s not journalism.”
3. (Dis) trust in the media.
“There’s a little less distrust in the media but still a lot of polarized opinions associated with the pandemic, on top of all the opinions associated with the news,” Paynter said.
As our report shows, trust in the media has declined in the eyes of journalists, from 63 percent in 2019 to 59 percent in 2020, continuing the downward trend we’ve seen in the past few years of the State of the Media Report.
Sarah Parker is the head of content marketing at Cision.
Photo credit: incomible