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Understanding Today’s Media: Insights from Top Journalists

Join this panel with top journalists to explore findings from the 2024 State of the Media Report.

The 2024 State of the Media Report

Get actionable insight from 3,000+ journalists on what they truly want and need from PR teams.

4 Things Journalists Want PR Pros to Know About How They Work

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Building and maintaining any relationship takes work, including the one between journalists and PR pros. To help answer PR pros’ burning questions and strengthen those relationships, journalists spilled all the tea on what they want (and need) from communications professionals for Cision’s latest State of the Media Report.

Underlining the importance of these relationships, 18% of you told us that your connections with PR pros grew more valuable over the last year. But as journalists face continued challenges of understaffed and overworked newsrooms, combatting accusations of “fake news,” and declining ad and circulation revenues, there are steps PR teams can take to make journalists' jobs easier.

Cision’s 13th annual report – based on a survey of over 3,800 journalists worldwide – asked about the types of content you want, why you’d put PR pros on the “block/don’t call” list, and what it really takes for a pitch to grab your attention.

Here are just a few of the takeaways.

1. Journalists are busier than ever.

According to the report, 43% of reporters are covering five beats or more and nearly 30% file 10 or more stories a week. So it comes as no surprise that you have little time to review every pitch in depth – let alone respond to each one. More than one in five (22%) journalists say they receive 100 or more pitches per week, adding to this burden.

Compounding the workload obstacle for journalists, the vast majority (91%) say most pitches they get aren’t even relevant to their audiences. (It’s also possible that they’ve blocked a PR pro for “spamming” them with irrelevant pitches or following up relentlessly.)

We want to help: Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) told us that “understanding my target audience” is the best way for PR pros to make their jobs easier. Customize your journalist profile with Cision to ensure PR pros know about the types of stories you’re looking for, how you prefer to be pitched and more.

2. Journalists still value press releases.

Very much so, in fact: 76% told us they want to receive press releases from PR pros, and press releases are the #1 resource journalists rely on for generating stories or story ideas.

But not all press releases are created equal. Respondents told us about the overused words in headlines that have essentially lost all impact, including such words as “leading,” “unique,” “ground-breaking” and “innovative.”

In addition to an eye-catching headline, journalists are also looking for multimedia with those press releases. Nearly a quarter of journalists (22%) told us that the inclusion of multimedia with press releases and pitches would make their jobs easier.

How to get the press releases you need: Create a custom newsfeed with PR Newswire for Journalists to be alerted of news in your coverage area, on the schedule that works for you. Narrow the results by geography, keyword, industry and more. Plus, the multimedia assets included in releases are free for you to include with your stories. 

3. Journalists are using social media for work – but don’t necessarily want to be pitched on it.

We asked how important social media is for completing certain work tasks – and receiving pitches from PR pros is on the very bottom of the priority list. While 23% of journalists say it’s A-OK for PR pros to contact them via social media, significantly more (34%) don’t prefer it, and 12% say they’ll even block a PR pro who tries this tactic (#yikes).

As one respondent told us, “I don’t love it… I’d honestly rather get an email. I think if you have a relationship with the journalist already and aren’t cold-pitching them, and they are receptive to you following them and communicating through that social media platform, it’s fine.”

Succeed on social: One in five journalists (20%) say they find social media valuable for publishing and promoting their content – making it the most popular answer. 

4. Journalists want PR pros to do their homework before pitching.

What does anyone want from the people they work with? To make their lives (and jobs) easier. For the report, Cision explicitly asked how PR pros could make your jobs easier. The top answers: Understand my audience and what they find relevant; provide me with data and expert resources when I need them; and stop spamming me with irrelevant pitches (see takeaway #1 above).

In a nutshell, journalists need PR pros to exercise empathy and understanding when working with them. That includes everything from respecting their deadlines and responding quickly to their inquiries, to providing the assets, intel and other resources they need to do their jobs.  Journalists say that with a better understanding of the challenges they face, PR pros can better serve their media partners and build strong professional partnerships that will serve them time and again.

As one of our journalist contacts put it:

"Take the time to research the journalist you are pitching. Every day I get dozens of PR pitches... When I get that rare pitch that shows me that the PR pro has actually viewed my work, they’ve got my attention."
Connect with experts: Speaking of access to expert resources, when you sign up for PR Newswire for Journalists, you’ll also have access to ProfNet, our database of industry and subject matter experts. Submit a query form to be connected with available experts for your next story.
Rocky Parker

Rocky Parker is the Digital Content Lead at Cision and has been with the company since 2010. In addition to writing content for Beyond Bylines and the Cision blog, she works with journalists, bloggers, and content creators to create their targeted newsfeeds from PR Newswire for Journalists. Rocky also counsels on SEO and content writing best practices.