Supporting journalists today

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Supporting journalists today

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the business world, particularly the media industry. Being sensitive to the challenges that journalists face can go a long way, especially in 2021. Following are three strategies that companies/brands need to consider when engaging with media:

Practice empathy

These days, the need for empathy is more important than ever – including the newsroom. Sometimes even the best stories don’t make the cut, so don’t take it personally or get discouraged. Understandably, valuable stories will inevitably fall through the cracks when you consider the sheer number of emails editors have to sift through. According to Cision’s 2021 Global State of Media Report, 53 percent percent of journalists receive over 50 pitches a week, and two percent receive over 100 pitches per week. Most journalists report that just 25 percent or less of the pitches they receive are relevant to their audiences.

With that in mind, an unsuccessful pitch does not always mean that a journalist was unimpressed. 95 percent of journalists say that most of their reporting in 2020/2021 was pivoted to angles related to COVID-19 (Cision State of the Media). You never know what your pitch might have been up against: a weekly publishing limit, timelier COVID-19 coverage, or simply an overwhelming workload. Timing is truly everything.

 Build and provide meaningful resources

Since an article’s audience demographics and analytics impact advertising dollars, it makes sense that over half of journalists reportedly evaluate pitches in consideration of compelling data points, accompanying images, interesting quotes or a strong point of view (Cision State of the Media). With this in mind, brands need to ensure they are equipping PR pros with the resources to make a story as competitive as possible.

Assets can range from press releases, infographics, videos, research reports, fact sheets, or FAQs. Offering a credible company spokesperson to speak directly with the reporter can also provide value while building rapport. Just remember to keep the resources sharp! Including irrelevant assets such as outdated research, uncredible sources, marketing brochures or fluff quotes can weaken a relationship with a reporter.

 Plan ahead

Many newsrooms have shrunk over the past year, forcing many journalists to produce more with less time. Pitching embargoed news to trusted media can provide journalists with the time to properly factor your story into their news cycle. Many journalists report having a weekly number of articles they can publish in a given time frame – typically between five to ten per week (Cision State of Media). Providing journalists with a heads-up can cause more meaningful coverage.

PR must be empowered with the tools to help busy journalists tell authentic stories throughout the pandemic and beyond. At its core, successful media relations rely on finding a respectful and understanding relationship.

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