PR & thought leadership

PR pros outnumber journalists 6 to 1: not a good thing

Thinkshift | September 13, 2018
Journalist getting pitched

Many journalists get dozens of pitches a day.

We now have six PR representatives for every journalist in the U.S., up from a 5-to-1 ratio two years ago. That is bad news all around.

And the number of working journalists is shrinking, writes Muck Rack’s Mike Schneider. Newsroom employment dropped 23 percent from 2008 to 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Across print, broadcast and digital media, jobs fell from 114,000 to 83,000.

Ouch.

This is bad for all of us—journalists, media outlets, PR people, citizens, democracy. We could go on about that, but two points are particularly relevant to our work as members of the PR horde:

  1. It’s harder than ever to get media attention. It’s always been hard, but this number really brings it into focus: the journalists we PR pros aim to reach are being bombarded with pitches day in and day out. And it’s getting worse.
  2. In the absence of earth-shattering news (who has that very often?), success requires carefully crafted, personalized story pitches—not generic messages or batch-and-blast press release sends. Some journalists reject 95 percent of the pitches they receive on a weekly basis, often because they aren’t relevant or compelling for the publication.

The situation is not hopeless.

One key is to make the circumstances work in our favor. We strive to stand out from the pack by developing clients’ stories in ways that meet the needs of the journalists we want to write about them, and focusing on quality content and genuinely newsworthy items. It takes more time and effort, and but gets better results.

Beyond the immediate hits, we gain lasting media relationships based on mutual respect, and a door that’s open wider to our clients in the future.

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