5 journalism trends affecting PR in 2017

A Cision survey of media professionals shows how they view the shifting world. Heed their insights, and adapt your pitches and other tactics accordingly.

The news media landscape continues to transform; PR professionals must adapt our methods and approaches accordingly.

A report from Cision sheds light on important issues that PR pros face in 2017. Let’s look at five trends affecting the industry, along with tips for keeping up:

1. Journalists are under pressure.

The news industry is in flux, and journalists are feeling the pinch. As revenues remain flat, resources continue to diminish.

The remaining journalists must do much more in less time. Does that sound stressful? It is.

It’s important for PR professionals to understand the pressures that journalists endure. When you make your pitch, get right to the point, providing well-researched facts. Provide real value.

To gather and flesh out story ideas, many journalists turn to online services such as ProfNet, Help a Reporter Out and PR Newswire for Journalists. Register for those services to position yourself as a resource.

2. Journalists are under more scrutiny for accuracy.

Professional journalists have always worked scrupulously to ensure the accuracy of their reports. Given the epidemic of fake news and unsourced “reporting,” reporters must work even more diligently when it comes to accuracy. They require facts, not feelings or opinions.

Cision’s report states that 92 percent of journalists polled say being “right” is more important than being the first to publish a story.

This premium on facts and accuracy demands that you do your research before making a pitch. Give journalists useful, reliable information they can work with and trust.

3. The relationship between PR professionals and influencers is evolving.

Influencer marketing is increasingly valuable. Those with large social media followings or widespread name recognition can help organizations amplify their message and can advocate on their behalf.

In Cision’s study, 18 percent of influencers say they rely more on PR professionals now than in the past. What accounts for this change?

Influencers seek guidance as they navigate new territory. As their industry matures, new rules and regulations affect the way they work.

The Federal Trade Commission, for instance, recently cracked down on influencers and now requires them to publicly disclose their sponsorships. Violators will face a fine.

As a PR or communications pro, you’ll be a liaison between brand managers and influencers. In this capacity, you ensure influencers are compensated and that everyone adheres to the law.

4. Email remains the best way to reach journalists.

Ninety-two percent of journalists surveyed say email is their preferred contact channel. Only 2 percent of respondents prefer receiving a pitch on a social media network.

An increasing number say reaching out by phone is a terrible idea. Stick to the inbox.

Always contact reporters through their own email address, never through an editor.

Try to find a journalist’s email through Google, on the media outlet’s website or through online tools such as Rapportive and ZoomInfo (which has a free and paid service). Paid services such as Cision’s Media Database might have the contact information.

5. Journalists focus on stories that fit their interests.

Some journalists sift through 100 pitches a day.

When asked what motivates them to pursue one story over another, 51 percent of journalists say they choose stories based on the pitcher’s knowledge of their past work, interests and strengths.

Don’t spam journalists with stories that don’t fit their beat. Do your research, and contact only those journalists who cover your industry. Choose journalists because your story fits their interests, and tailor your pitch accordingly. Never send generic batch emails.

Cision found that only 24 percent of journalists want to see thorough details about a product, event or topic. This is down 20 percent from responses to the same question last year. Journalists generally don’t care about your company news.

Wendy Marx is president of Marx Communications. A version of this post first appeared on the company’s blog.

Topics: PR

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