Mar 03, 2016 / by Katie Gaab

Read more about the latest media trends in our 2021 State of the Media Report!

Technology, from smartphones to social media, has shifted the way people consume, share and discuss content. Newsrooms have evolved to keep up with audiences’ needs.  

Despite all this change, one thing that has largely remained the same is the working PR-journalist relationship. Two-thirds of journalists believe it has remained unchanged over the past few years.

But that doesn’t mean all is well. According to the journalists surveyed in Cision’s State of the Media 2016 Report, communication professionals need to work on four key areas of media outreach.

Want to get a competitive edge and garner more coverage? Here are the ways journalists believe communication professionals can improve their outreach efforts:

1. Tailor Pitches

Wondering why you can’t get coverage? Approximately 78.5 percent of journalists believe communication professionals need to tailor their pitches better.

Susan Page, Washington bureau chief at USA Today says off-topic pitching “makes it harder to take calls you might have in fact been interested in.

Don’t send the same generic pitch to everyone on your media list. Instead, use your media database to locate the journalists covering the story angle you want to pitch. Remember, personalized pitching is key to building strong media relations, becoming a trusted source and gaining more coverage.

2. Understand Who You’re Pitching

Journalists’ second biggest pet peeve revolves around research, or rather a lack of it. Seventy-three percent believe communication professionals should learn more about a media outlet before they pitch. Reporters sometimes change outlets, and outlets sometimes change their coverage or the way they report the news.

Start to understand your target journalists by exploring their in-depth profiles in your media database. The leading databases allow communicators to use social to track what reporters are talking about and announcing on their channels.

If you’ve created a media list, include notes in the document to help you remember what you discovered, and don’t forget to update them often.

3. Providing Information


Want to really make a journalist’s day? Forty-two percent are looking for more information and expert sources.  

Keep the journalist’s audience in mind when deciding what to include in your pitch. Where and how are they accessing the news? Think in terms of mobile-friendly, visual, easily digestible content.

Nearly half of journalists surveyed stated they used this type of content in their stories. As Carol Ladwig of Snoqualmie Valley Record says, “video- and image-based and multimedia (content) all provide more access points into a story, for more diverse readership.”

4. Respecting Pitching Preferences

While a fifth of journalists currently accept social media pitches, that doesn’t necessarily mean they prefer to get a tip via a tweet. Each journalist has his or her own pitching preferences.

If you are a Help A Reporter Out (HARO) user, pay close attention to what is being asked for in a source request. Some journalists want to set up phone conversations, while others explicitly state they want a two-sentence quote, bio and picture – and that’s all they want.

Before you hit send, double check the journalist’s pitching preferences. Otherwise, you could end up on their blacklist for a very simple, avoidable mistake.

Our Pitch Perfect eBook explains how you can use data to craft a better, relevant pitch and maximize your earned media's impact.

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About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.