Internal meetings. Presentations. Meet-ups with clients in another city. Quarterly business review plans. Amidst all the meticulous planning and events, the life of a PR professional can sometimes feel like a whirlwind of paperwork, where the essence of creativity risks getting lost in the shuffle.
As engaging as all of these events are, the sheer volume of administrative tasks can easily overshadow the creative energy required for our roles and hinder our ability to provide journalists with the information they genuinely need.
It can become increasingly challenging to stay attuned to the news, leaving us wondering: how can we strike the right balance between our administrative responsibilities and the core creativity and consumption that fuels effective PR to ensure we’re giving journalists exactly what they’re looking for?
But it doesn’t end there: journalists are under tremendous pressure to get their copies sent across under big editorial deadlines. On average, reporters receive 300 emails every single morning in the UK, making it more difficult for PRs to stand out in a sea of pitches.
Plus, journalists are facing challenges such as the shift to digital news, increased competition from alternative media and widespread misinformation. With these factors contributing to a decline in public trust in traditional news outlets, reporters are under pressure to deliver accurate content to audiences at a very fast pace.
Let’s explore the best strategies PR professionals can apply to pitching to make sure they stand out in journalists’ inboxes despite the competition.
We conducted an exclusive LinkedIn survey to find directly from the mouths of journalists what they want to see more of from PR professionals.
A whopping 67% of respondents said that the type of resource they’re most interested in are *drum roll* case studies – but not just any case studies. When asked what their preferences were, they all mentioned the importance of exclusivity.
Another 27% said statistics and survey data are essential to a press release while 7% considered stories with strong visual data to be a valuable resource.
Laura Purkess, Consumer Champion & Senior Consumer Affairs Reporter at The Sun, said: “I don’t take stories from PRs unless they’re hard news and exclusive. Having reliable companies to ask for expert commentary, case studies and statistics to support what I’m working on is so much more useful.”
Being seen as reliable to a journalist has never been more important. Get to know the journalist you want to reach out to, discover what they write about and build a relationship with them based on trust and familiarity.
Being responsive in a timely manner is another key element to being a reliable source of information to others. Journalists often work under tight deadlines, so responding promptly to their inquiries or requests for information demonstrates your commitment and reliability. It helps establish a positive rapport and reinforces the idea that you are a trustworthy source they can depend on.
Write 300-word pitches and send them early morning
Long gone are the days when you could send a big chunky press release to a journalist.
New data shows that the optimal strategy for pitching a story to journalists is a personal approach via a brief email, containing an exclusive offer, especially on a Monday morning. This insight is based on feedback from over 2,000 journalists who participated in Muck Rack’s latest State of Journalism survey.
A large majority (61%) of journalists like to receive pitches before noon and a whopping 88% prefer short pitches under 300 words.
That said, if a story is good, it doesn’t matter if it’s written in 300 words or 1,000 – a journalist will often still cover a good story. However, it helps journalists if you keep your pitch concise, straight to the point and don’t get lost in too many details.
According to Roxhill’s latest pitching guide, it’s best to email journalists at national desks by 10am, ideally between 7.30am to 9am. The best day to pitch is on Tuesday and Wednesday for the weekend and on Sunday for Monday stories. Another tip is to avoid embargoes unless there’s a real need for them.
Providing an exclusive offer might not succeed every time, but journalists generally appreciate it. According to the same survey by Muck Rack, 76% are more inclined to cover a story if it’s presented exclusively.
It’s a trial-and-error type of process but here are three tips on how to successfully pitch an exclusive quote or press release:
- Thorough research is crucial – identify journalists who cover your industry and can do justice for your news. Look for similar stories that align with how you want your exclusive to be covered and create a list of potential journalists to approach.
- Approach one outlet at a time – allow a few days for a response before reaching out elsewhere. Communicate a response deadline in your pitch to avoid conflicts of interest. Avoid having multiple outlets interested in the same exclusive simultaneously as this could harm your credibility.
- Outreach in advance of launch – ensure that your pitch emphasises that the story is off the record until terms are agreed upon. This precaution prevents giving away too much information upfront and ensures clarity in communication during the negotiation phase.
- Offer exclusives two-three days ahead of launching your press release – according to the top tips from Roxhil’s 2024 Pitch like a Pro deck.
While statistics help with timing and understanding writing styles, the real game-changer is creativity. So, spice up your pitches: try different formats, throw in some bold colours, infographics, and images. Get creative and watch your messages begin to stand out in the crowd. Need a hand with getting started? Let’s talk.