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Survey: how top US journos like to be pitched by PR pros

A recent survey of 50 top US publications explores how reporters like to be pitched news and story ideas by PR people. The survey includes responses from national news, tech and vertical business titles such as TechCrunch, Insider, The Wall Street Journal and AdWeek. It was conducted by OnePitch, a platform that helps PRs identify and pitch journalists. 

Here are my six takeaways for the report:

1) Most reporters are unable to get through the 200+ weekly PR pitches they receive

64% of the reporters in the survey said they receive over 200 PR pitches via email every week. Unsurprisingly, many are unable to get through all their emails daily. But most don’t think that’s a big problem. Only 26% say it’s important that they reach ‘inbox zero’ by the end of each day. No surprise then that many journalists emphasize the need for pitches to be short, clear and to the point.

2) Pitches do get used by journos when creating stories (phew!)

The good news for PRs is that 90% of journalists use PR pitches to create stories. But to be clear, the research doesn’t estimate how many of the pitches they receive they actually use. It certainly does NOT imply that journalists use 90% of the pitches they use to create stories 😉.

Individual comments within the research reveal the specific things different reporters/publications look for in pitches, such as exclusives.

3) Email is still the primary way reporters want to be pitched

Nearly all (96%) journalists said they prefer receiving PR pitches by good old-fashioned email. In a separate question, 10% said they preferred being pitched by social media – with Twitter and LinkedIn being their most popular options. I follow several journos who are open to being contacted via Twitter DMs. But I still find email works best.

4) Subject lines can make or break a pitch

Unsurprisingly, around half of the journalists OnePitch questioned say the subject line is ‘highly important’ when it comes to whether they will even open an email pitch. 

5) Many reporters don’t feel the need to talk directly to a source 

Over half of the survey sample said they did not talk directly to their sources – either by phone or video call – before writing their stories. Perhaps this is a symptom of reporters being too pushed for time – and the need to get stories out the door quicker. At the same time, 42% said they do create many of their stories by talking to important sources related to their beat. I am increasingly finding that reporters I pitch want to do Q&A interviews by email rather than talk to my clients.

PR agencies should note this data. It suggests that many journalists don't  speak to their sources when writing stories
6) Data and numbers can be key

38% of the editors say including data within your pitch is important. And most PRs do try to use data, including primary and secondary research data, to emphasize the key issues when pitching. But interestingly, many reporters said they also want to see revenue and growth numbers from the companies PRs are pitching them about.

Quotet: PRs should include their clients' revenue and growth stats when pitching journalists

Download the full ‘State of Pitching’ report from OnePitch here. For more on successful media relations, check out our PR case studies.

(Featured image credit Katrina Berban on Unsplash)