May 11, 2017


More than ever, journalists are relying on credible industry sources like PR professionals. (Hooray for us!)

Don’t cheer too loudly, though. There’s still a lot we can do to improve the relationship.

Cision’s annual “State of the Media” survey collected data from 1,550 participating journalists and influencers from the U.S. and Canada. Below are three insights journalists and influencers shared that can help PR pros become more valuable resources:

1. Trust has shifted

Journalists said they are struggling to maintain the public’s trust. The challenging political climate adds to the frustration, as reflected in these categories of the Cision survey: 

  • 91 percent believe the media is somewhat or much less trusted than they were three years ago.
  • 92 percent said being right is more important than being first.
  • 60 percent believe the public values facts above opinions or feelings.

This doesn’t mean we should focus on facts and ignore emotional connections. Brands can build trust through authenticity, emotional storytelling and meaningful engagement, according to communicators at a Cision-hosted panel in New York.

2. Reliable sources are more important than ever

Journalists are being asked to do more with fewer resources. Newsrooms are shrinking, the pace is faster and online channels require more visuals and posts. Writers don’t have as much time for research and cultivating story leads. They need PR professionals, industry experts and trusted newswires for story ideas.

Use the most of this opportunity. Send relevant story ideas and releases that help journalists do their job. You’ll also hear back from journalists more often if you can provide photos, B-roll or audio clips.

Note that the journalists surveyed use social media to share content, but not as a source for story information. They do believe Facebook is the most valuable channel for audience engagement. Twitter was second.

3. Tips for becoming a trusted source

As PR professionals, we can improve our standing as journalists’ resources in a few ways:

  • Research and understand the media outlets’ subject matter and audience before sending a story pitch. This was at the top of the list for 82 percent of journalists in the Cision survey.
  • Research journalists and tailor your story pitch to them. A PR Daily article recommends you peruse the writer’s last 20 stories or posts to understand their interests and what they cover. Just over half of Cision survey participants said they’re more likely to pursue a story if you’re familiar with their past stories and beats.
  • Send pitches via email. About 92 percent of journalists prefer email pitches over any other method. Editors and writers I met at the Travel and Words conference last month would nod in agreement. 
    • Bonus tip: How do you get writers to open your pitch? Michael Smart offers this advice.
  • Include photos, video and other visuals with your pitch. Cision survey respondents said they “always” or “often” use multimedia elements 71 percent of the time. Provide photo credits, captions, location and source to increase your chances of getting the story picked up.

Journalists’ jobs are getting more challenging. As PR professionals, we can make ourselves indispensable. 

What tips have you learned to connect with journalists? Tweet us at @JayRayAdsPR