This is what journalists want from you

The relationship between journalists and comms and PR professionals can often feel complicated.

Some might say ‘strained’.

Others might describe it as ‘love/hate’.

But both sides need each other for success.

And that makes insight into what each other thinks and needs valuable.

Cision’s 2024 State of the Media report helps shine a spotlight on the challenges journalists face, the evolving newsroom and what they need from you.

It has gained the responses of more than 3,000 journalists, including those based in the UK.

Let’s guide you through the crucial findings.

Press releases

The report, which is now in its 15th year, highlights the continuing importance and appeal of press releases, something we’ve often stressed in our media training blogs.

Press releases topped the list of content journalists want to receive from PR professionals,

Just under three-quarters of respondents named it as something they want to receive, putting it above original research and exclusive stories.

And almost 70 per cent of reporters identified them as being ‘most useful for generating content or ideas’.

If the press release is well written, it could get coverage with few changes. One journalist said: “Provide print-ready copy, the better written the better.”

It also seems clear that if you include multimedia elements in your press releases, you are more likely to achieve success and get the story covered.

Images are the most popular form of multimedia, followed by infographics, videos and surveys.


Journalists want to speak to your experts

There is also a massive demand for access to experts.

Just under 45 per cent of journalists said they want interviews with industry experts.

And ‘industry experts’ were the second most useful source for content and ideas.

The report quotes a journalist as saying: “Provide sources for interviews who are subject matter experts and willing to be honest and forthcoming and answer questions.”

Have you got experts with recent media training under their belts, ready to make the most of this demand and grab the opportunity?


Pitch perfect

The report contains plenty of fascinating information about pitches.

Around half of those surveyed receive more than 50 story pitches a week.

And many of them are irrelevant - only seven per cent of journalists consider the pitches they receive to be relevant more than half the time. Damning stuff.

When the journalists were asked to describe the perfect pitch, Cision said an “overwhelming number” of responses mentioned relevance.

Those responses included: “Relevant to my audience” and “Relevant to the region and the people who live there,”

So, comms professionals must understand the audience of the journalists they target and are presenting a story they would realistically cover. Do your homework.

Email comfortably remains the preferred way to receive pitches, with 87 per cent stating it as their preference.  Only two per cent want a phone call.

You can learn more about what makes a great pitch in this blog based on one of our recent Media Team Academy masterclasses.


What not to do

As well as lots of insight on what journalists want, the report is packed with information on things to avoid to maintain good media relations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given what you’ve just read, being ‘spammed’ with irrelevant pitches tops the list of ways to annoy reporters.

And ‘pitches that sound like marketing brochures’ came third.

Repeated follow-ups are another way to quickly lose favour, with just under 50 per cent saying it causes them to block a PR professional.

The report quotes a journalist as saying: “Fewer follow-ups to unsolicited messages. My inbox is drowning.”

It is worth noting that only eight per cent of journalists told the survey that more than one pitch follow-up was ok. 


What else do you need to know?


Journalists are starting to use AI

AI has been presented as a threat to journalism.

But it is clear from the report that we are starting to see more of artificial intelligence in the newsroom.

Just under half of its respondents said they use generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

These tools are predominantly used to research subjects. But 19 per cent also said they are using them to create early drafts of stories.

And it is easy to see the attraction of these time-saving aids – lack of staffing and resources remains one of the main pressures journalists face.

Journalists and AI is a topic we will be covering in more detail in our blogs in the coming weeks.


Grow your comms skills

Click here to join our learning and development programme and get access to our expert masterclasses, online skills and a resource hub packed with tools and templates to make your job easier.

Social status

Journalists continue to see social media as a valuable way to promote content, source information, interact with their audience and connect with experts.

Interestingly, Instagram is clearly the platform they intend to use more in the coming year, followed by LinkedIn and Facebook.

It is also worth noting that a sizeable number of journalists – 19 per cent – do not want to be contacted on social media by a comms professional they have not met.


The report findings may not be that surprising.

But they are a great reminder of the importance of creating relevant press releases and pitches and having media spokespeople ready to give interviews when you capture attention.

You can download the 2024 State of the Media report here. You can also get regular insight from journalists and communication experts through our Media Team Academy learning and development programme.


Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 35 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers.

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