In today’s rapidly changing media environment, public relations (PR) professionals must stay ahead of the curve to effectively engage with journalists and secure media coverage. Cision, a PR software and earned media platform, recently released The 2024 State of the Media Report, offering critical insights into what journalists need from PR professionals and how to build stronger media relationships. And while most of the findings shouldn’t come as a surprise, there are several good reminders to help keep PR pros on track. Here are my top takeaways.

Relevance is Key

Not surprisingly, one of the top takeaways from the 2024 State of the Media Report is the emphasis on relevance. Journalists consistently highlighted the importance of receiving content that is not just timely but (more importantly) pertinent to their audience. When asked to describe the “perfect” PR pitch, journalists overwhelmingly reported relevance as the most important factor. Although not a new concept by any stretch, this underscores the need for PR pros to have a deep understanding of the target audience of the journalists they are pitching to. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Research the journalist’s previous work: This doesn’t mean scanning their last 3-5 articles and casually referencing them in your pitch. You should take time to truly understand the types of stories they cover and what resonates with their readers. Think of it this way: if the reporter asked you, “Who is my audience and what do they like to read about,” would you be able to answer them?
  • Personalize pitches: Again, nothing groundbreaking here, but avoid generic pitches and tailor the content of the pitch to fit the journalist’s (and more importantly, their audience’s) specific interests and beat.
  • Provide value: Ensure that the pitch offers something of value to the journalist’s audience, whether it’s new data, a unique perspective, or an exclusive story–and make it clear and obvious what you’re offering.

By prioritizing relevance, you can increase the likelihood of your pitch or story idea being considered and published.

Data-Driven Storytelling

In today’s information-saturated environment, one of the greatest challenges is distinguishing valuable data from the vast amount of less reliable information. Data has always been a powerful tool for journalists but has increasingly become one of the most crucial elements in shaping their editorial strategies and measuring success. According to the report, two in five journalists say data will play an even larger role in their work this year. This means pitches backed by solid data are more likely to catch a journalist’s attention. Here are a few ways you can leverage data more effectively:

  • Incorporate relevant statistics: Use data to support the key points of your pitch and provide evidence for your claims. Bonus points if you can find a third-party source or a competitor whose data supports your claims.
  • Offer exclusive insights: Present unique data or research findings that have not been widely covered, making your pitch more appealing. For example: Telling a journalist your CEO thinks that AI is going to have a big impact on the future of retail probably won’t spark a lot of interest, but if you have real data that shows 90% of online consumers relied heavily on an AI-enabled virtual assistant to guide their shopping decisions (I made that up), you may be onto something.
  • Visualize data: Remember infographics? They were all the rage several years ago, but seemed to have lost some of their appeal. But don’t let that discourage you from creating an awesome representation of your data. People (especially readers) love to see data represented visually in ways that make it easier to understand. This could be a chart, slide share, GIF, or infographic, to make the information more accessible and engaging.

Adding relevant and REAL data into pitches will help enhance your credibility with journalists, especially if you can provide the material they need to create compelling stories.

Multimedia Importance

This kind of ties in with the last bullet above, but the importance of multimedia cannot be overstated. The report reveals that journalists highly value multimedia elements, such as images, videos, and data visualizations. In fact, multimedia can be a deciding factor in whether a journalist will pursue a story. For reference, one of our clients saw their press release views more than double just by adding relevant, high-quality images to their releases. Those releases also saw more pick-ups, as journalists were able to take the photos and add them to their stories. To make the most of multimedia in PR pitches:

  • Include high-quality visuals: Photos, short videos and compelling charts and infographics that are relevant to the story and can be easily shared.
  • Use multimedia to enhance storytelling: Make sure the multimedia elements complement and enhance the narrative of your pitch. Which is to say, if you don’t have something visually compelling to share don’t force it. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
  • Provide easy access to assets: Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of including multimedia —if a journalist or publication can’t easily access or use the assets provided, you may have just lost a bunch of time (and budget). Consider using secure storage links for multimedia files instead of attachments to prevent inbox overload and make it easy for journalists to access and use the content.

The 2024 State of the Media Report offers valuable insights into the evolving needs and preferences of journalists. For PR pros, focusing on relevance, leveraging data, and incorporating multimedia might just be the thing you need to build stronger media relationships and secure coverage.

For more insights and to learn how to apply these findings to your own communications strategies, contact Voxus PR.