We truly love working with journalists. There is an incredible amount of value to building and maintaining those working relationships, and it really can make working in PR even more enjoyable. Although, journalists can get quite a bad “rep” from other industries. Whether it’s for being unapproachable, or for never responding to emails, there can be a lot of grumbling when journalists come up in conversation. We believe that when pitching to journalists, there are some key things to do that will make both your life and theirs easier, creating a smoother process for all involved.
A recent report conducted by Propel found that, in the last quarter of 2022, the average amount of times a journalist responded to a pitch fell by 21%. This begs the questions: why such a drastic fall? Are pitches getting less interesting? Are journalists becoming more selective? That is what Propel hoped to find out. They gathered these statistics by analysing 500,000 pitches over three months. It is worth delving into these statistics a little more, and discussing why such a statistic really isn’t a concern for us after all.
As I have already said, at BlueSky Education, we consider working with journalists to be a joy. We are also aware that there are always a lot of things going on at one time. Therefore, we are thoughtful and considerate with the pitches that we send.
Fool-proof ways to successfully pitch to a journalist
1. Be concise
The statistics found by Propel show that shorter pitches have a much higher success rate. Like Propel's report discovered, we find that the shorter the pitch, the better. They found that the best pitches have no more than 250-300 words, with the recommended subject length being five to eight words in length. Within this word count, you want to convey the facts without rambling. Don’t give all of the information away, just enough that the journalist will have a clear understanding, but will be left wanting to know more.
2. Be selective
Propel's report also found that nearly a quarter of all pitches sent (120,000) went to the same 10 publications, these being places such as BBC and The Guardian. Personally, I will always ensure to send pitches or press releases to journalists that are relevant to the topic. Whilst top tier media like the BBC are excellent publications with an incredible readership, and we have great contacts to get in touch with, there are plenty of other worthwhile places to send content to.
This is where I believe BlueSky Education has a particularly niche advantage. We work with some excellent trade press publications. We have built strong relationships with journalists all across different trade magazines, all of whom have a more specific readership who may be a better target for your institution’s research, interviews and other stories. Their audience are reading these publications because they are interested in that specific area. This means that they are more likely to engage with the article, and you are more likely to reap the benefits.
We will always ensure we get coverage for the organisations we work with. We will keep trying until we are successful, but to do this we don’t spam the inboxes of hundreds of journalists. We often utilise relationships that we have spent time building. If we know of a journalist that has an interest in the story, we can send it directly to them and have a much greater chance of securing a piece of coverage in a publication. If this plan doesn’t work out (perhaps due to editorial schedules with the initial journalist we contacted), we will ensure to do the adequate research to make sure we can achieve maximum success when we pitch.
As stated earlier, our main aim is to make the life of the journalist as easy as possible. Short pitches mean we can get the point across plainly and simply. By doing this, we don’t take up too much of journalists’ time, and they still understand the point we are making. This is one example of how we get the most success when getting coverage in different publications.
Working with journalists doesn’t have to be a stressful experience for anyone. This brief description of how we ensure we are triumphant in our work will be beneficial in helping you understand what we do and how we do it. The report by Propel was an insightful piece of work, and showed that the way we do things here at BlueSky truly does work!
So, to answer the questions mentioned at the start of this blog, I don’t believe pitches are any less interesting, nor do I think journalists are getting more selective. I believe that pitching is often something that isn't done correctly. To ensure more success, try applying some of the tips mentioned throughout this blog and watch your success rate soar!
Georgina is a friendly and dedicated PR professional, committed to producing and sharing compelling stories that achieve impactful results for impressive clients such as EHL Hospitality Business School, ESSEC Business School, Asia School of Business, and many more around the globe.