Both journalists and PR professionals have difficult jobs and journalism is clearly change as a result of digital migration, which could be a blog unto itself.  According to the Pew Research Institute and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, newsroom employment declined from 114,000 to 88,000 from 2008 to 2017, primarily driven by a loss in newspaper employment. Meanwhile, PR now has six professionals for every journalist, according to Muckrack. This situation creates a double-edged sword for PR professionals who need to rise above the crowd of their peers to grab the media’s attention, which can be converted into coverage for clients.

By doing a great job and not taking the easy way out, PR folks can work with journalists to help both sides to reach their goals.

Be an invaluable resource to the journalist

According to Cision’s 2018 global State of the Media survey, in which the company surveyed 1,355 journalists from six countries, several startling statistics:

  • 63 percent of journalists said news announcements and press releases are what they want from their PR contacts.
  • 44 percent of journalists said that press releases are their most trustworthy source of brand-related information
  • 28 percent of journalists felt that PR professionals can do a better job of researching and understanding journalists and their outlets before pitching; and
  • 24 percent of journalists said that they’d like pitches to be more tailored to their beat

A good press release should tell a good story that attracts attention and sparks additional interest from the media. There should be a note/pitch to accompany the press release that explains why the journalist would want to cover the story. Journalists are adamant about the need for PR pros to understand their publication, beat and audience and needs such as meeting deadlines and having high-quality photos or videos available. Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR CEO recently told Bulldog Reporter, “To many people, public relations is about issuing a press release, sending that release to as many media professionals you can and seeing how many actually cover the story. This is lazy public relations and not very effective, which is why I call it ‘spray and pray.’ I have learned to respect editors and know that without media, PR people wouldn’t have jobs. Respect entails taking the time to research their outlets, audience and coverage before pitching with the goal of starting a genuine relationship with them.” If pride in one’s work is not enough for a PR pro, there are many journalists who will “Twitter shame” the PR person who sprays everyone in the newsroom, prays for coverage, and inadvertently sends an email with blanks such as “Dear first name.”

Journalists are busy people and are inundated by emails consequently they may miss the one with the press release or other information they need. Delia Mendoza, NRPR senior account executive explains that “while too many follow ups can pester press, follow ups are essential to closing stories and gaining coverage for clients. Being that journalists are constantly researching stories and on deadlines, they don’t always have time to respond to your email the first time you send it.” They may appreciate the follow up call or email, but once they say “not interested, it’s time to move on.”

Journalists and PR pros need to be partners not adversaries. PR can help journalists to find the content that will resonate with their audience and if a PR person does her job correctly, journalists will look to PR to assist them. It can be a win/win situation.