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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.

Take 5 Live with Julie Carl

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We recently kicked off our Take 5 Live series on LinkedIn Live and Julie Carl, Senior Editor of the Toronto Star, joined us as our first guest! (You might remember Julie as one of our panelists from the State of the Media Live event earlier this year.)

Got questions for us, or an idea for someone else you think we should have on our series? Find us on Twitter @Cision

1. What is the most helpful thing PR and communications professionals can do for journalists in the current environment? 

PR and comms professionals should have a plan that starts with familiarizing yourself with the organization you're pitching to- something extremely pro-business isn't a good fit for an alternative outlet, for example- then writing a concise press release about it. 

Leave "press release" out of the subject line, however; be sure the subject line conveys what is going to make the pitch you're sending worthwhile. Why is it relevant, for their outlet and their outlet's audience? 

2. What is one of the most misunderstood aspects of journalism? 

In the short-term people need to understand the time restraints journalism is under; plan your pitches around big calendar items like elections or other large community events that are going to consume an outlet's resources (where once that might have been space on a page, increasingly it's having enough staff to cover anything else). 

If you meet a journalist from a place of understanding about how their job works, you're more likely to get your story placed. 

3. What are some better pitching tips for PR and comms pros? 

Lead with how you've been following their work and what you like about it. That naturally segues into what you're pitching them and why it's a good fit for what they cover. Be clear about how what you're offering- an expert to interview, for example- will make their job easier. 

If they respond, be sure you're responsive. Make it easy to reach you with multiple phone numbers and emails. Sometimes someone else gets the coverage because they were easier to get ahold of. 

Not sure how to answer a question? Answer the phone anyway and respond, "I need a little bit of time to think. What is your deadline?"

Communication is key. 

4. What are the best and worst pitches you've ever received? 

The worst pitches are always the ones that say "PRESS RELEASE" or "EVENT" with a lengthy attachment that doesn't actually include any relevant information, such as what time an event is happening or where it will take place. 

Tip: Have someone else read your press release and be sure it's clear what it is you're trying to communicate with it as part of your concise pitch. 

5. What role do you see bias playing in your work— across your industry and even in yourself? 

Everyone needs to accept that they have bias and to constantly challenge it when they're working. 

Sometimes the best stories come about- or the best pitches you can make to a journalist emerge- because you've just questioned something and it has given you a new approach to consider.