Muck Rack, the public relations technology service provider, recently released data from their 2022 State of Journalism survey. This year’s report featured insights from more than 2,500 journalists, working in a range of roles and mediums. (Spoiler: Digital dominates. 74% of those surveyed report primarily in online mediums.)
Our own team of PR pros combed through the findings, and shared their take on five key trends that we see impacting our industry and our work in 2022 (we conducted a similar analysis of trends identified at the outset of 2021). Capitalizing on these trends now will help your 2022 media relations campaigns earn results.
PR Pros and Journalists are Building Better Bridges
60% of journalists call their relationship with PR pros mutually beneficial, and an increasing number view the relationship as a partnership.
As journalists continue to be spread thin trying to keep pace with the demand for digital content, more are turning to trusted PR pros as collaborators – and even partners – in the effort to maintain a steady stream of quality reporting. A relationship that has sometimes been seen as antagonistic is pivoting toward a more symbiotic arrangement.
This is good news for everyone. But to build your own fruitful media partnerships, savvy PR pros must nurture these relationships with great care. It’s our responsibility to be good stewards for reporters and their readers by providing timely, accurate information, and being responsive to each contact’s priorities and needs.
The potential value of these more open relationships cannot be overstated. Through strategic outreach, we can generate more opportunities to work closely with trusted reporters in a process that goes beyond “pitch to publish.” Collaborating with journalists allows us to craft and tell our clients’ stories in a more impactful, outlet-specific way.
The Definition of “Thought Leader” is Evolving
While fewer journalists feel that CEOs are credible sources for reporting, they are still the second-most trusted source. At the same time, more journalists find social media personalities (17% vs. 12% last year) and celebrity spokespeople (14% vs. 12% last year) more credible than they did last year.
The acceptance of social influencers and celebrities as mainstream B2C and B2B thought leaders is showing steady growth, which will only continue. This makes sense for a couple of reasons:
- While there is still plenty of misinformation on social media, and everywhere for that matter, many credible and influential social media personalities tend to have expertise in a particular space, and they may even be known for regularly breaking verifiable news on specific topics within a reporter’s beat. They can also be a reliable way to confirm or debunk facts about developing stories or topics in their area of focus due to the very public nature of their profile.
- More often than ever, reporters are evaluated based on the number of clicks, likes and shares their stories get, so it’s no surprise that an increasing number of journalists (64% this year) say they track how many times their stories were shared on social media. Social media personalities who can contribute to – and then share – reporter’s content can offer a big boost.
Brands can also follow and build rapport with social influencers and high-profile figures in your industry to earn unmatched third-party credibility and referral traffic.
It may seem like the growing tendency for journalists to trust the social influencer over the PR pro pokes a hole in the first trend discussed in this article. Don’t be fooled. Media relations experts will use an understanding of the second trend to hack the first. Developing relationships with both influencers and journalists allows you to connect the two vis-a-vis your client’s story, brokering trust among all three parties along the way.
Journalists are Turning to Digital and Shared Channels for News
57% of journalists get their news from online newspapers or magazines. 18% get their news from Twitter (up from 16% last year).
To understand what journalists are looking for, you must first know what journalists are looking at. Now more than ever, reporters and editors are turning to online outlets and social platforms like Twitter to understand the industries, players and events they’re reporting on.
Muck Rack’s survey indicates that more companies are responding to this trend by sharing information in ways that will help reporters bring a story to life online. Compared to last year, far fewer (44%) journalists said that the way companies share information is outdated (vs. 61% last year).
To avoid joining the outdated information sharers group, make sure your pitches include visuals. 65% of journalists say stories that contain an image or infographic make them shareable. Good content must also be flexible enough to appear in multiple mediums. 74% of journalists surveyed produce content in at least one medium in addition to their primary one, such as a podcast or newsletter. Understanding what makes digital content resonate with online audiences and being able to repurpose one type of content into a different medium are two skills your journalist collaborators will deeply appreciate in 2022.
If You Can’t Tweet It, Don’t Pitch It
89% of journalists want pitches that are 300 words or less.
Ok, so that’s a little longer than a tweet, but journalists have always been short on time, and this is a bigger problem than ever so get straight to the point. The average journalist covers four beats, up one from a year ago, so it’s no wonder that 68% of journalists want pitches that are 200 words or less, and that percent goes up to 89% for 300-word pitches or less.
In-Person is Back!
87% of business and finance reporters will attend as many or more events than they did last year.
After two years of virtual events (and all the conveniences and headaches that went along with them), in-person gatherings are back for business and trade conferences. Journalists recognize that these face-to-face gatherings present unique storylines and opportunities to meet with and learn from industry leaders.
As executives, innovators and influencers gather to share stories and unveil products, you’ll want to be ready with a PR plan that includes speaking engagements, interviews and other networking opportunities for your brand ambassadors. Do your homework ahead of time to discover which outlets and reporters will be in attendance and how they plan to cover the proceedings (Live tweeting? Blogging? Interview booth?). Armed with intel, you can pitch in real-time and celebrate PR wins with a high-five instead of a Zoom call. Now may also be the right moment to invest in media training for those who need a refresher on the art of the soundbite.
More than ever, journalists and PR pros need each other to create and publish high quality news and content. Remember, journalists consume and create content in a multi-media world – just like we do – and they face many of the same pressures and challenges we face along the way.
By understanding journalists’ changing needs and current market trends, PR pros can strengthen existing journalistic relationships and capitalize on the industry’s credibility to build new ones.