What Do Journalists Want?
As public relations practitioners, we spend a considerable amount of our time developing relationships with our colleagues in the media. In addition to understanding the purpose of each media outlet, who their readers/viewers are, we also have to know how to effectively and efficiently communicate with each journalist.
Just as each media outlet has its own style, coverage area and story topics, each journalist that works for a particular media outlet has his or her preferences on how he or she likes to receive information and what stories they are more likely to be interested in.
Cision, a provider of software that gives practitioners like us access to media contacts across the world, has released its annual State of the Media survey. More than 3,800 journalists from nearly 2,200 media outlets, spanning 17 regions across the world provided key insights that offer a deeper understanding of how they work, what keeps them up at night and what they really want (and need) from the PR and comms professionals they work with.
A few interesting insights from this year’s survey:
- 1 in 5 journalists (22%) explicitly say that publicists can do them a favor by including multimedia content in their pitches and with their press releases. More than half of journalists (54%) go so far as to say they would be more likely to cover a story if provided with multimedia.
- Our tip: use dropbox or other file sharing service to provide these multimedia assets. And make sure they are quality images and video.
- Do your due diligence to ensure you’re reaching out to the right person at the right outlet.
- Our tip: this seems obvious, right? The spray and pray approach will never work. A good story is a good story, but that doesn’t mean it is a good story for every journalist. Find out what they want and need.
- More than half of journalists (57%) need PR pros to provide them with data and expert sources when they need them, and (29%) say PR pros can help them by understanding and respecting their deadlines.
- Our tip: make sure your sources are available BEFORE you pitch the media. Assuming you will be successful with your pitch, a journalist will need to have immediate access. And be sure they are media trained. Securing the story is just one part of the process, your sources need to be comfortable doing interviews.
- Avoid jargon in your media outreach.
- Our tip: We’ve all done it. Announcing a “groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind, unique, state-of-the-art” project. That’s fine and good for your company brochure, but not for a story pitch or news release. Avoid industry-speak, jargon and adjectives.