State of the Media 2023 Report

We surveyed 3,000 journalists globally to reveal challenges, industry evolution with technology, and implications for communications professionals. 


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7 Insider Tips for Building Better Relationships With the Media

Lessons from Cision’s 2021 Global State of the Media Report

As anyone who’s ever been in a long-term relationship or seen a Nancy Meyers movie will tell you, good relationships take work. And if findings from Cision's 2021 State of the Media Report are any indication, that’s exactly what the relationship between PR pros and journalists could use right now. 

According to the report, released today, while almost half of journalists (48%) are satisfied with their relationship with PR pros, 14% aren’t quite as impressed, and the remainder don’t have strong feelings either way. That leaves a lot of room for improvement.

The good news is that journalists didn’t leave us hanging: They shared some of the surprisingly simple (but not always obvious) actions PR pros can take to build better relationships with the media (and get better coverage) – no couples therapy required.

7 Tips for Building Better Relationships With Journalists

  1. Do your homework. One of journalists’ pet peeves is getting pitches for something that has nothing to do with their job – it can also land you on their “block/do not call” list. Before you reach out to journalists with a pitch, channel your inner Veronica Mars and do some research to learn more about them, the types of stories they cover and their audience. Then ask yourself, “Would they care about this?” If the answer is no, move on.

  2. Be a trendspotter. If Gretchen Weiner ever succeeds in making “fetch” happen, you should be the first to know. As mentioned above, journalists are looking for stories that speak to what’s happening in the world right now, so the better you are at delivering stories with timely narratives, the more of an asset you will be. Set up news alerts and use monitoring software and social listening tools to stay ahead of emerging trends and the conversation around them.

  3. Time it right. Be aware of when journalists are most amenable to receive pitches. The majority (60%) prefer Mondays, while Tuesday is also good for 43%. A significant number, however, prefer pitches on Friday (28%) or over the weekend, likely for weekend coverage or to plan for the week ahead.

  4. Give them time before following up. One of the journalists’ biggest turnoffs is PR people who repeatedly and relentlessly follow up. Nearly 3 in 10 journalists say they never want follow up at all, while many want at least two days to look over a pitch first. If you’re going to follow up, try to do so between 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., as the majority of journalists prefer.

  5. Plan ahead. Have a list of stories you plan to cover? Share them. Providing a list of stories you plan to pitch in advance is one of the best ways to help journalists out, according to 35% of those surveyed. This helps them anticipate what’s coming, plan ahead and better manage their already-packed schedules (and stress levels).

  6. Get graphic. Including photos, a video or other visuals with your press release can win you major points with journalists, who are hungry for multimedia elements that help bring their stories to life and drive engagement. Last year alone, the overwhelming majority (80%) included images with their pieces, followed by videos (45%), infographics (43%) and social media posts (39%). And if that’s not enough evidence that you should include multimedia content in your press releases, 1 in 5 journalists (22%) explicitly said they wish PR pros would do so.

  7. Give them what they want (what they really, really want). Again, journalists are under tight deadlines, so they don’t have the time or patience to chase down critical details. By giving them all the information they need up front (insightful data, relevant quotes, accompanying images), you’re not only saving them time, you’re giving them fewer hoops to jump through, making them more likely to cover your story. It will also put you in their good graces for future interactions. A win-win.

Bottom line: The easier you make it for journalists to do their jobs, the more it will pay off for you.

Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is Editorial Director at Cision and writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.