Journalism has changed a lot over the last few years, but you don't have to feel left behind.
One thing that hasn't changed? Media relations remain an important part of the PR world. You can still provide valuable, unique and timely information to journalists. As long as it's coming from a genuine place, you can land some solid pitches.
Whether you're just getting into the world of solo PR or are already a seasoned pro, we're giving you in-depth tips on working with the media in 2022.
The state of journalism in 2022
Being a successful PR pro requires having a pulse on the current state of journalism, trends that are on the rise and figuring out how you can adapt.
Journalists are now covering more verticals than before, companies are changing the ways they share information for the better, and social media influencers are becoming more credible than CEOs and company PR reps.
With journalism resources stretching thinner and thinner, your pitches need to be laser-focused.
As a PR pro, you also need to pay close attention to data and analytics. Meltwater states this is one of the top PR trends to focus on — make sure you're tracking as much as you possibly can.
From website traffic coming from PR placements to social media engagement and brand awareness, data is key to keeping clients happy and resources flowing.
Looking into the rest of 2022 and beyond, the focus is set on in-depth strategy, personalized pitches and airtight data.
5 tips for working with the media
Ready to brush up on your media relations skills? Here are five tips for working with the media.
1. Always start with a clear strategy
The first step with any strong PR campaign is strategizing.
During this planning phase, you need to determine exactly what your goal is, the content and data you'll be providing and where you want to be published.
Make sure you have all the bases below covered before you start pitching:
- Verticals and industries. What verticals are relevant to your pitch? This helps you narrow down publications and journalists to reach out to.
- Channels. Are you publishing content on other channels first? This could help add substance to your pitch if you're referencing data, interviews or graphics that are already published. For example, are you going to publish a press release first? Provide original reporting and data? Reference an exclusive interview with an executive or the CEO of a company?
- Create digital press kits. If your pitch references original data, statistics or infographics, add it all to a Google Drive folder or Dropbox and share the link in your pitch email. It's a lot easier than attaching multiple files (which journalists don’t love), plus it can help you bypass the spam folder. The easier it is for journalists to view and interpret what you're sending, the better.
- Optimize company-owned assets. Are you going to include company-owned assets in your pitch? Make sure your data doesn't sound like an ad for your company, is relevant for the outlets you will be pitching to and is timely enough to be interesting.
2. Build a targeted list
Modern PR requires modern solutions. With journalists covering more beats than they used to due to staffing and budget cuts, make sure any information you have is up to date.
Build a list based on who your story is most relevant for. Remember, this needs to be hyper-targeted for the right journalists. Sending your pitch to irrelevant industries or random journalists will just be a waste of time.
What kind of targets should you go after? Meltwater suggests targeting micro-influencers as one of the top PR trends of the year.
Influencers are so much more than someone with a large Instagram or TikTok following.
They could also be a local radio host, podcaster or blogger. Think a bit outside the box when it comes to micro-influencers — anyone who has a dedicated audience that trusts their opinions could be a great person to add to your outreach list.
3. Write a perfect (personalized) pitch
Pitching can still be successful: 80% of journalists say a quarter or more of their stories come from pitches, according to Muck Rack's 2022 State of Journalism study.
The most important part of pitching is to keep it personal.
Gone are the days of sending out one canned pitch to hundreds of journalists. If you want to stand out from the rest of the crowd (and build credibility!), personalization is key.
Tailor your pitch to the journalist, micro-influencer or niche you're reaching out to for your best shot at success.
Journalists report the most successful pitches are:
- Short (around 200 words)
- Sent early in the week (Monday is best)
- Sent early in the morning
If you can, offer an exclusive in each pitch and make it obvious you're doing so — 79% of journalists reported they're more likely to cover a story if they're offered an exclusive.
4. Follow up, but not too much
If you haven't heard back on your pitch within a week, it's best to follow up again.
Yes, this is backed up by science — Muck Rack's State of Journalism study found that 90% of journalists say one follow-up is acceptable, and 85% said following up within a week of your first email is OK.
What's the best way to follow up? Keep it short, sweet and to the point, just like any other PR outreach communication. Reiterate your initial pitch, keep it professional (not pushy) and let them know you have additional data points if they want more substance.
You can follow up a total of two times. However, if you still haven't heard back after sending that third email, it's best to move on.
5. Close the deal or move on
Haven't heard back after your follow-up emails? It's time to throw in the towel and focus your time and energy elsewhere.
While some journalists will let you know they aren't interested, a lot of the time you might not hear back at all. This is normal in the PR world, and it's something you'll become accustomed to if you're just starting out.
Don't take it personally — journalists and influencers receive hundreds of emails every day. If they're interested, they will let you know.
If your pitch doesn't seem to be getting through to anyone, start your pitch process from the beginning and make sure your strategy and outreach targets are perfectly aligned.
Cut through the noise of the PR world
Journalists are busier than ever before. Your pitch should make them feel like you're providing a detailed, data-driven story that's perfect for their audience.
Remember to create a comprehensive plan before starting any outreach, research journalists and micro-influencers that fit your niche and craft a personalized, data-driven pitch.