PR in 2021: What’s changed, what’s stayed the same

Understanding the evolving media landscape and how companies can effectively engage with journalists is an integral part of PR. From working remotely to new ways of communicating, a lot has changed over the last year for journalists, and as PR professionals, it’s our job to make sure we’re partnering with them in ways that are mutually beneficial.

I had the chance to attend Cision’s very first State of the Media Summit to hear directly from media about their recent challenges, what’s changed with their role over the last year and what they’re looking for from brands when creating stories.

Here are three key takeaways:

Journalists are doing more with less.

Many journalists are handling more than one beat, writing multiple stories a day, reacting to real-time news, all while understaffed. Moving quickly is an understatement. According to Cision’s 2021 State of the Media report, 73% of the journalists surveyed said that receiving multiple irrelevant pitches is a reason to block a brand. Understanding who you’re talking to and how you’re approaching them is more important than ever and can help your company cut through the clutter.

Give journalists more to work with.

Sharing a story idea may have worked in the past, but it’s no longer enough. Put yourself in a journalist’s shoes and ask yourself why a story is newsworthy and what else can bring it to life? Some of the things journalists are looking for include:

  • Images. More than 80% of journalists are using images with their stories. Always provide photography and image options for them to consider.
  • Press releases. 78% of journalists want press releases and news announcements to help inform stories, due to their informational and concise format.
  • Unique data and original research. 68% of journalists want to see original research from brands. Think of doing an industry survey or working with a research company to help elevate your pitch and bring more industry context to your story and/or news.

Relationships matter.

Journalists want to hear your story ideas. Rather than expecting coverage from a journalist, start a transparent conversation with them about what you can offer or ideas you have that they might be interested in. See how you can help them with their stories and ask how they best like to receive information. We’re all navigating working in a prominently digital environment, so finding ways to help make their job easier, such as arranging Zoom interviews, sharing a virtual press kit or inviting them to a virtual trade show booth meeting, helps to meet them where they are.

Interested in learning more about the 2021 media landscape or need support to revisit your PR program? Contact Bridget Hagan.