Four Ways PR Pros Can Better Engage Journalists

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A recent report found that more than 80% of journalists who have been in the industry for 10 years or more said they rely on public relations (PR) for news. However, it’s important to note that more than 50% explained that they don’t use PR content when the content is either not relevant to the story or if the content is overly promotional. PR pros can be extremely beneficial for journalists if they demonstrate that they truly respect and understand what the reporter needs. Here are four tips to help you better engage with journalists.

Build Relationships With Journalists

Before the pandemic, it wasn’t unheard of for PR professionals to meet with journalists in person to get to know them and their interests better. Now, in the age of digital correspondence, many PR professionals don’t take the time to get to know the reporters they are pitching. According to Muck Ruck’s recent “The State of Journalism 2021” survey, only 6% of journalists see their relationships with PR professionals as partnerships.

As in-person encounters increasingly become a thing of the past, developing personal relationships with reporters can be challenging. For many PR pros, sending impersonal mass media pitches is still the norm. But mass pitches are often ignored or recognized as junk, ending up in the “promotions” tab in the journalist’s inbox. To that end, the Muck Ruck survey found that only 17% of journalists are fine with mass emails.

On the flip side, 94% of journalists prefer one-to-one email. To change the way we interact with reporters, we should learn what they’re writing about, personalize our pitches and give them useful information that they can easily access and understand.

It’s also important to learn how reporters like to be pitched. Although many still prefer the tried-and-true email, some reporters don’t mind being pitched through their social media accounts. However, this should not be your only method of media pitching — you should instead integrate it into your larger media strategy.

Do Your Journalistic Homework

To better engage journalists, building a strong media list geared toward the topic at hand can ensure you’re only targeting those who are going to be genuinely interested in your story angle.

Do your homework and target the right reporters and publications. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate that you understand what kind of content they write about. By consistently providing reporters with information that they’re looking for, you’ll be able to meet their goals as well as those of your client(s).

Share Media Coverage on Social Media and Tag Reporters

As PR pros, we spend so much time and effort writing the perfect pitch to secure media coverage for our clients that we often forget to share our successes. According to Muck Rack’s report, 62% of journalists said they track how often their stories are shared on social media.

When we generate press for our clients, we should post that content on our own social media networks, tag the reporters and encourage clients to do the same. To go a step further, we could even share and tag stories that are not about our clients, showing reporters that we appreciate and are interested in their work.

Social media is also a source for journalists — about 58% surveyed said they typically check out a company’s social media account when reporting on that company.

Leverage a Call To Action

Always include a call to action in your pitches. Determine in advance exactly what you are offering to the reporter, and show them you’re open to working with them by providing all the details they need up front. From there, it’s a matter of enticing and encouraging reporters to do something — whether to get back to you or to cover your client’s news in an upcoming article. Remember, the more work on the front end we do for the reporter, the better our chances are for securing media coverage.

Finally, it’s perfectly acceptable to send follow-up notes. In fact, 72% of journalists expect to receive them.

In short, your goal should be to develop and maintain strong, mutually respectful relationships with journalists so they WANT to hear from you and receive relevant information for their articles. Remember that journalists are constantly bombarded by emails from PR professionals, some receiving up to 30 cold pitches per day, and most of them aren’t very good — 70% of respondents say they receive inaccurate information from PR professionals at least some of the time.

To secure the best results for your clients, focus on delivering quality over quantity when sending media pitches. Get to know reporters before you pitch them — first and foremost, they are real people doing their job just like you! Remember that social media can help you develop those mutually respectful relationships we want with journalists. Finally, end your pitch with a clear offer — for example, if you want to learn more about successfully engaging and creating meaningful relationships with journalists, reach out to Comprise! Our team has the expertise to craft the stories you want to tell about your company and communicate your message to the right audiences.

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