Muck Rack’s State of Journalism 2024 reveals how often journalist respond to pitches — and the No. 1 reason yours isn’t getting attention.

Muck Rack’s annual State of Journalism report is a must-read for any By the Numbers fan. It’s chock full of useful data on how journalists work, the state of their industry, their views on AI and much more.

But let’s be real. You’re mostly curious about the section on pitching and why you aren’t getting any darn responses.

The problem with pitching

Here’s the good news: Journalists value PR pros. The survey, which received responses from more than 1,100 journalists, primarily from the U.S., found that 70% believe that journalists are at least somewhat important to their work. After all, PR pros can help reveal interesting trends, connect reporters to experts, offer viral promotions and more.

But that doesn’t mean pitches are always helpful. In fact, 49% of respondents said they seldom or never respond to pitches. Twenty-four percent said they respond about half the time, 18% usually do and 8% always do.

Cheers to the 8%.

 

 

And it certainly isn’t due to lack of pitches that journalists aren’t responding. Forty-nine percent of respondents said they get at least six pitches per day, with 12% contending with a whopping 21 or more pitches every day. Perhaps those who are combatting 100 or more pitches on a weekly basis can be forgiven for not always giving a response.

But by far and away, the biggest reason journalists don’t respond to pitches is that they simply aren’t relevant to their coverage area. Seventy-nine percent cited lack of relevance as the top reason they’ll deny a pitch, which reveals a serious problem with targeting in the PR industry.

“Spray and pray” is not an effective pitching method. If you’re still reporting how many pitches you’re distributing, you’re measuring the wrong thing. Better to distribute a handful of pitches to vetted journalists rather than risk becoming one of these forgotten, mis-targeted attempts cluttering an inbox forever.

So, what does make for a good pitch besides smart targeting?

There isn’t an easy formula for this. The vast majority (83%) do prefer to be pitched 1-1 via email rather than in a mass barrage or via phone. But beyond that, there’s little consensus for a day of the week (64% say they have no preference) or time of day (44% say before noon, but that leaves plenty who prefer a time after noon). There is a preference for shorter — 65% prefer pitches that are less than 200 words. And a slim majority (51%) say you should only follow up once, preferably within 3-5 days.

Beyond that, you’ll likely want to focus on building a relationship and just ask your identified reporters when and how they want to be pitched. Every journalist is a unique human being with their own personal preferences and job requirements. The best thing to do is simply to ask — and to be empathetic.

Because journalists are dealing with a lot.

A journalist’s life in 2024

Everyone is busy. Let’s get that out of the way. But journalists are becoming even more intensely worked as their numbers dwindle while the pile of news to be reported on seems to grow ever larger.

Muck Rack’s survey found that 36% of journalists have dealt with layoffs or other downsizing at their organization in the last year. Sixty-four percent work more than 40 hours a week, and 79% report working outside the standard 9-5 hours. Many (46%) do all this for less than $70,000 per year.

They’re also turning in a great deal of work, though the exact volume of the stories they produce can vary widely. Thirty-six percent produce a reasonable five stories or less per week, but 22% are responsible for 11 or more, a massive workload. Add that on top of their bulging inboxes and it all makes for a difficult, stressful career.

Read the full Muck Rack report here.

To further hone your pitching, join us for PR Daily’s Media Relations Conference in Washington, DC June 5-6.

 

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on or LinkedIn.

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