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What PR Pros Should Know About the 2017 State of the Media Report

In a time when fake news and alternative facts are often the headline, it will come as no surprise that the Cision 2017 State of the Media report highlights the role of trust in media. The issue of trust, however is not confined to public viewpoints but the trust of all those who participate in its activity.

We are all aware of the challenges – declining revenues, fewer resources, and highly fragmented audiences – but there are also tremendous opportunities for public relations and communications professionals to be part of the solution and drive success on behalf of their clients.

Listed below are 5 key takeaways from the report for public relations professionals.

“Ninety one percent of journalists believe that the media is somewhat or much less trusted than they were three years ago.” Cision State of the Media

We live in an age when there is declining trust in corporate leaders and the media. Not a great combination for professional communicators who rely on both to drive messaging. As a PR professional, we can help rebuild trust by providing accurate and relevant information to journalists. While this has always been the practice of true professionals, we are often diminished by those who rely on shortcuts to get media attention for clients. We must do better individually and collectively.

It’s more important to be right than first.

According to the report, the majority (92%) of respondents said that being right is more important than being first. This may seem contrary in a culture that seems to thrive on real-time news. Journalists today are tasked today with doing more with fewer resources, but they continue to value being right. When we all act with integrity, our clients and publics are winners. Take time to focus on quality rather than quantity. This may require educating clients and setting expectations, but will lead to higher quality results and better relationships with the media.

Smartphone, smart methods

Many of us have experienced the uninvited, ill-timed sales call. Yet, we engage in the same behavior when reaching out to journalists. Nearly all (92%) journalists and influencers who responded to the Cision survey prefer email pitches. While many pros have found success with calling journalists, it is best to use that strategy when you know a journalist’s specific preferences

The proof is in the pitch

More than half (51%) of journalists will pursue a story when you display knowledge of past work, interests and strengths. While many professional communicators may write this off as Media Relations 101, we’re not doing it as well as we think. When asked how PR professionals can improve, 83% said “researching/understanding my media outlet,” while 73% suggested “tailoring the pitch to suit my beat(s)/coverage.” Using media databases is a great way to build an initial list, but before you pitch, do the work of researching both the outlet and journalist you are targeting. It takes more work, but is far more successful than blasting out a generic pitch, hoping that someone will respond.

We need each other

While journalists point out ways that public relations professionals can  improve, we are still a valuable resource. According to the report, 63% , said their reliance on PR professionals has not changed. Further, for the second year in a row, respondents cited press releases and story leads as the most valuable resource, followed by expert interviews and images.

The 2017 State of the Media Report highlights key trends but also shows that while the landscape and demands have changed, how we play the game has remained the same. Earned media is earned by doing the hard work of pitching relevant, truthful content and doing so with excellence.

You can read the full State of the Media Report for additional trends and insights.

Have you read the report? What were the key takeaways for you? Discuss in the comments or on social media using #solopr.

Featured image via istockphoto | wellphoto