Muck Rack recently released its State of Journalism 2024 report, which surveyed more than 1,000 journalists on a variety of industry topics including how journalists work, how they use generative AI and social media, how they interact with PR professionals, and more. The report provides key insights into how journalists operate in today’s media landscape and what they need from PR pros to do their job well.

Below, we tackle seven takeaways from the report and touch on how these findings should inform your media relations in 2024.

  1. Journalism is not a 9-to-5 job.

Journalism remains a busy profession and PR pros must be mindful of a journalist’s time. Most full-time staff journalists work long days, as 64% report working more than 40 hours a week. Nearly 80% of journalists report that they work after-hours at least once a week and 34% say they do this most days. Additionally, journalist workloads can vary. Nearly a quarter of journalists produce a staggering 11 or more bylines per week, while a similar number (22%) produce 5–7 articles weekly.

  1. Journalists are looking for credible SME sources.

When seeking news sources, journalists have strong preferences for subject matter experts (82%) and researchers (77%) as sources for their reporting. CEOs round out the top three (46%) of their preferred choices. Now, we know PR pros have SMEs available and eager to provide commentary – the real work comes in connecting the SME with the correct journalist and demonstrating how their expertise aligns with the journalist’s coverage area.

  1. Most journalists view PR pros as important to their work.

Good news: Most journalists think PR pros are key to their success. The report found that 70% of journalists say PR professionals are either “important” or “very important” to the success of their jobs. It makes sense; journalists need story ideas and PR pros can help in this department with thoughtful pitching.

  1. However, most PR pitches are ignored.

Approximately half of journalists said they ignore most PR pitches, with 49% of respondents saying they “seldom respond” or “never respond” to these messages. Why are most pitches ignored? Because the pitch is irrelevant to a journalist’s coverage area, with 73% of respondents giving this reason for rejecting a pitch. Like journalists must know their audience, PR pros must know their PR targets to land a pitch.

  1. The perfect pitch is focused, personalized and prompt.

When describing the ideal pitch, 83% of journalists prefer for it to be personalized via one-on-one email. Length matters, as 65% of journalists prefer pitches that are under 200 words. Timing is also important, as 44% of journalists want to receive pitches before noon. Timely follow-up is necessary, with 51% of journalists saying one follow up is ideal and 48% saying it should come within 3–7 days after the initial pitch. When pitching, be dogged in your pursuit and see it through to resolution.

  1. The journalism industry is still figuring out GenAI.

In a nutshell, journalists are split on generative AI as the industry continues to grasp how to use this nascent technology ethically. About 28% of journalists report using the technology and another 20% plan to explore its uses. Notably, few newsrooms have established AI policies, as nearly 60% of respondents report their newsroom has no AI use case policy. Those planning to use GenAI expect to use it for behind-the-scenes tasks like brainstorming (52%) and research assistance (51%) and less for generating public-facing copy.

  1. X/Twitter remains valuable to journalists – for now.

X was reported as the dominant social media platform for journalists, with 36% of respondents mentioning it as most valuable (though this was a decline from 78% in 2023). Most journalists on X plan to stay there, as there is a lack of consensus on the ideal X alternative. Approximately one third of journalists say they are looking for an alternative to X but aren’t sure where to go. Threads (32%) and Bluesky (20%) were leading alternatives mentioned among those surveyed, while 35% said they didn’t have an opinion on an X/Twitter alternative. Many respondents predict journalists will spend less time on X in the coming year.

So, what should PR pros take away from this year’s report? While the media landscape continues to evolve and faces new developments such as advancements with generative AI, many longstanding best practices hold true.

Journalists remain extremely busy in an industry that’s experiencing dynamic change. PR pros can play a vital role in supporting a journalist’s news gathering and storytelling processes, but only if we demonstrate our value through timely and thoughtful interactions. Having intimate knowledge of the media members with whom we work, how they operate and what they need from us will inform the path to PR success.

Need help with mobilizing and driving media interest for your next PR campaign? Let’s chat.