This piece originally appeared on the PRSA blog PRSay and is republished here with permission.
Each year we’ve reported on our annual State of the Media Report and this year had the pleasure of speaking with an expert panel to see how much things have changed from their point of view. We were joined by Anthony Ha, Senior Writer at Tech Crunch, Julie Carl, Senior Editor at the Toronto Star, and Sarah Paynter, Reporter at Yahoo! Finance.
While we covered much of the contents of our global State of the Media Report, there were a few topics that we decided to spend a little more time on than others and we thought we'd highlight those topics here on the blog. (You can watch the full recording of the panel discussion here.)
1. Set a high bar for anything COVID-19 related
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has completely turned our lives upside down, including the lives of the media. “This pandemic has covered how unprepared we all were for this,” said Julie Carl. For the foreseeable future there’s no escaping the news that is the novel coronavirus so how do we learn to work with it?
“It’s changed the way we virtually look at any kind of story,” Anthony Ha said. “For a lot of PR people, a big part of their job is pitching their clients as subject matter and thought leaders – I would encourage them to try and apply a higher bar for anything COVID related. There’s a thin line between being helpful and trying to hitch a line to this global tragedy; no one is an expert in COVID.”
2. Tips for PR pros to go the extra mile
Journalists are constantly inundated with hundreds of pitches every day, so what’s a good way to make sure your pitch gets noticed? One way is to send your pitches at a different time other than the start of the week. Sarah Paynter said that Mondays are the days that she gets the most emails and with fewer and fewer throughout the rest of the week. The day of the week you send your pitch can make all the difference.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Ask yourself, what does that person cover, and will they be drawn to my pitch? (Is it of interest to their audience?)
- Consider sending something that is trending, if you notice that's something a journalist covers a lot of
- Start a relationship before you pitch, genuinely reach out and check in with your journalist
And check in even if you don't have something to pitch; that's how real human relationships work. As Anthony Ha put it:
"Journalists are people, not receptacles for pitches."
“Something I appreciate is when a PR pro has clearly done their research and included stats and facts. If you convince me that something is a trend and why it should be written about, that boosts your chances of getting covered,” said Julie Carl. “If it’s not accurate it’s not journalism.”
3. (Dis) trust in the media
“There’s a little less distrust in the media but still a lot of polarized opinions associated with the pandemic on top of all the opinions associated with the news,” said Sarah Paynter. “There was a lot of rhetoric in our country of fake news a few years ago and I think the news is starting to be about less the story and more in its place of telling the story.”
As our report shows, trust in the media has declined from 63% in 2019 to 59% in 2020 in the eyes of journalists, continuing the downward trend we've seen in the past few years of the State of the Media Report.
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