How to pitch the modern journalist

Journalists have to think more and more about video and shareability when they write stories. Here’s how you can help them with those things.

A recent report from the folks at Edelman got me thinking about how PR pros approach and work with the press.

As our world has changed the last number of years, so has the media world, but how often do you think about how those changes shaking up their world affects the way you pitch these modern journalists?

Let’s take a look at a few key stats from the Edelman/Muck Rack study and talk about what they mean for the PR side of the coin:

Stat: More than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to get shared on social platforms.

Like it or not, these numbers are likely to drive even higher in the coming years as media outlets continue to favor shareability. We’ve seen this trend coming the last couple years, but have you thought about how this impacts you, and what you can do to help? As PR folks, we sometimes have a better handle on what gets shared. Why not give our media friends a few ideas on items that might drive those clicks and shares? Suggest positioning a certain article as a “How to” post. Point out a key stat that might work well in a headline. The key is not to over-step your bounds. Journalists get paid to write objective stories. You want to make sure you’re not telling them how to do their jobs.

Stat: Nearly three-fourths of journalists are now creating original video content to accompany their stories. However, very few journalists (13 percent) are relying on sourcing consumer-generated video, and only 3 percent are using corporate video.

The age of B-roll is slowly dying. Sure, it works in spots, but according to the stats in this study, more journalists are shooting their own video, probably more so than ever before. Instead of wasting your time capturing your own corporate video to use in pitches (to be clear, I’m not suggesting you move away from video, just B-roll-type video), why not make suggestions to the journalist about video they can capture on their own? Then, do your best to make that process as easy as possible. It’s all about facilitating—instead of producing the video yourself.

Stat: Non-legacy media publishers make up the majority of the most-engaged sites on Facebook (top sources: The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Mashable, PlayBuzz).

What’s surprising here is how often PR counselors can minimize the power of these more non-traditional sites and outlets. For example, did you know Buzzfeed publishes honest-to-goodness news? It even has a business section. Would it be worth adding Buzzfeed to your national lists? Or what about thinking creatively? Is there a way for you to pitch your client as part of one of the popular Buzzfeed lists, as my friends at Life Time Fitness did last year?

A version of this article originally appeared on Arik Hanson’s Communications Conversations blog.

Topics: PR

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