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The 2024 State of the Media Report

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

Three Challenges for Public Relations Today (and How to Solve Them)

You put a lot of time, effort and (let’s be honest) talent into your media relations strategy, so why don’t your earned media results reflect that?

It’s a common frustration among PR professionals, especially as they struggle to compete for attention amid a shrinking pool of journalists and more noise than ever.

Let’s break down three of the biggest obstacles at play when it comes to getting the earned media coverage you deserve.

Challenge 1: Identifying the Right Journalists and Influencers to Reach

Here’s a startling fact: According to the latest 2024 Global Comms Report, a mere 22% of comms leaders say they can “always” identify the right journalist or influencer to reach out to…which means 78% can’t.

And don’t think it’s not having an effect, either: For Cision’s latest State of the Media Report – a survey of over 3,100 media professionals – the majority of journalists say most of the pitches that come their way are completely unrelated to the topics they cover. What’s more, 74% of journalists say they will block PR professionals who insist on “spamming them” with irrelevant pitches.

Why it matters: If you’re sending stories to the wrong people, your stories fail to get traction and you end up wasting your time and theirs. Not only that, but you may end up burning bridges (before you even begin to build them) with key influencers.

So back to the question: How do you know who the right journalists are – and how to find them?  

One solution: Start keeping a list of relevant media contacts who cover your brand or company’s industry, work for the outlets you want to appear in and have an audience of followers you want to target. It’s important to note, however, that a DIY media contact list requires constant maintenance, thanks to ongoing industry turnover and movement. Just trying to keep up requires time and effort that could be better spent elsewhere.

The better solution: A third party media database that is continually validated can help you quickly identify the right individuals for your goals, and ensure you always have the right information.

Look for one with a good search functionality that enables you to target by a variety of factors, create and save lists for easy reference and includes key information (areas of interest, past work, preferred pitching method, etc.) about the journalists and media influencers you’re interested in pitching.  

Challenge 2: Making Your Message Stand Out

Here’s another unsettling fact: PR professionals outnumber journalists 7 to 1. No wonder more than half of journalists report getting more than 50 pitches per week (and 28% get over 100!).

Why it matters: When it comes to getting journalists’ attention, you have a lot of competition and a lot of noise to break through. To create a truly standout pitch, you need to personalize your message to the individuals you’re reaching out to as much as possible. 

How to apply it: This means doing your homework to understand the type of stories your media contacts cover and how they prefer to be pitched. Of course, that's no small ask: After all, when you want to get your message out far and wide, you could be looking at lists of dozens or even hundreds of media contacts. Who has the time to do all that research? Or the access to all of that (correct and up-to-date) information?

A better solution: Enlist the help of technology. Here again is where a quality third-party database will have readily available access to detailed journalist and influencer data on everything from topics covered to pitching preferences – enabling you to easily personalize your pitches and make an impact.

Bonus solution: Make sure you’re pitching stories that are timely, speak to the moment and match the tone of the audience you’re trying to reach. That’s where PR analytics tools like  media monitoring and social listening come in, as they can help you understand who’s talking about you (and your competitors), what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

The more you understand your target audience’s thoughts and behaviors, the more context and intel you have to help you shape a narrative that either reinforces that narrative or dispels misconceptions.

Challenge 3: Tracking Results and ROI

If you’re like most communications professionals, you’re under more pressure today to tie your work to business results. And for most communications professionals, this can feel like a tall order: According to the same Global Comms Report, 25% of comms leaders agree “very much so” that they have the tools to effectively measure and prove the business impact of their PR efforts. Which means 7r% don’t.

Why it matters: If you aren’t tracking the impact of your efforts, how do you know if they’re successful? When it comes to planning your next campaign, how will you know where to begin? Or what messages will resonate?  

One solution: A quality media database partner can provide insight into who picked up your story, and where to focus your efforts next. Combined with a media monitoring and analytics platform, you can more accurately track the success of your efforts and use that insight to create more effective campaigns in the future.

Of course, analyzing data is easier said than done, but fortunately, there are a variety of media monitoring platforms out there today that make it easy to get the information you need – and make sense of it.

A better solution: Find a trusted partner who can take the complexity out of PR analytics with one, intuitive and easy-to-use solution that makes it easy to track the metrics that matter most. CisionOne Media Monitoring, for example, provides cleanly-designed, user-friendly dashboards where you can easily identify trends, track competitors and manage your brand strategy.

Whatever platform you choose, consider one that also provides automated reports you can share with your executive team, helping you prove your impact (and getting your team the recognition they deserve).

Bringing It All Together

Of course, meeting these challenges is easier said than done, and the last thing you need is another platform to add to the list of tools you’re already using. That’s where CisionOne comes in.

Maybe we’re biased (or maybe we’re just repeating what we hear every day from our clients), but our all-new, all-in-one CisionOne platform makes it easy to meet each of these challenges without disrupting workflow.

With CisionOne, you can:

  • Find the right influencers to spread your story and widen your reach
  • Connect with journalists and build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships
  • Understand the right message for the right audiences – with in-depth news monitoring and social listening
  • Understand if and how your efforts are making an impact through intuitive reporting tools.

Find out more about how CisionOne can help you solve for your biggest PR challenges. Explore the platform or make time to speak with one of our experts.

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.