What Cision’s 2017 State of the Media Report Tells Us About the Future of PR

With the media landscape constantly evolving, it’s essential that all PR practitioners are aware of current trends and shifts in order to remain at the forefront of their industry. In practicing digital public relations, it is particularly important to be aware of how journalists’ preferences are changing to better engage their growing online audience. Cision, a media communications database, recently released the results of their annual State of the Media Report, which surveyed more than 1,550 media professionals about their preferred practices, biggest challenges and trends to be mindful of. Here are some of the key takeaways from this report.

Know the journalist’s beat before you pitch

According to survey results, 51 percent of journalists reported pursuing a story because of a displayed knowledge of their work, a 16 percent increase from last year.State of the Media ReportBut how can public relations practitioners accommodate these preferences in a practical way?

  1. Create specialized pitches for industry-specific publications and research each outlet to find one reporter that is most likely to pursue your pitch. This way you’re targeting niche publications in a strategic and efficient way.
  2. Create a master list of reporters you have already established relationships with for each industry. This will not only make your life easier when trying to find specialized reporters, but they will appreciate you respecting their beat.
  3. Take one reporter from a few top publications out of your media list and do the necessary research to really personalize those pitches. Maybe reference an article they recently published or trend they often write about. By doing so, you’re showing a vested interest in them and establishing yourself as a quality resource. Even if you may not land an opportunity that time, it will build the foundation for a lasting relationship. Who knows, they might reach out to you again for a similar story in the future.
  4. Take advantage of resources like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters post story ideas and request reputable sources for them. By using this database, you have the opportunity to find specialized story topics that will leverage your expert sources while increasing your chances of successfully landing an opportunity.

Get creative with multimedia

With the news shifting to become shorter and more interactive, journalists are searching for elements to use in their stories that will both entice and engage readers. Nearly 70.5 percent of survey respondents reported almost or always incorporating multimedia into their stories, and they ranked the type of multimedia that they value the most as follows:

  1. Photos
  2. Social Media Posts
  3. Videos including YouTube
  4. Infographics
  5. User Generated Content – Videos Photos
  6. Web Polls
  7. Live Stream / Blogging Embeds
  8. Data Interactives
  9. Animated .gifs

Photos, social media posts and videos come as no surprise as the most integrated multimedia elements in stories, but this presents a major opportunity for infographics. Infographics are useful to not only support a pitch with facts that are presented in a captivating way, but they can be used as a lead for a story as well. But what if certain reporters don’t accept infographics? It never hurts to ask what form of multimedia they prefer to receive and make note of that so you don’t keep pitching them with content they’ll never use. Respecting and valuing their preferences will pay off because knowing what they commonly utilize for their stories will make them a great resource for future opportunities.

Provide valuable and differentiated resources

Journalists are constantly being pitched with press releases and new story ideas, and while survey results show that this is their most valued resource, it’s essential that PR professionals find a way to break through the noise and stand out with their pitching ideas. One way to do this is to tie the lead to something trending in the news or to an upcoming event, which we refer to as news and time pegs. This not only shows that you did your research, but that you are stepping in as a valuable resource by providing a fresh perspective to a bigger story. Expert interviews and story sources were ranked as the second most valuable resource to journalists, so make sure to constantly check resources like HARO for these specialized opportunities. Finally, always be sure that you are presenting ready-to-publish content that helps establish yourself as a credible source. This means going through your pitch and checking for accuracy, grammar and AP style, and being sure that each hyperlink works.

 

Ariana HeadshotAriana is a soon-to-be graduate of San Diego State University and current member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). As a journalism major with an emphasis in public relations, she brings both traditional training and fresh ideas to Circa as their digital public relations and content marketing intern. Her creativity and passion for storytelling contribute to Circa’s digital public relations presence.

 

Four Lessons from my Internship in Digital Marketing

Entering a digital marketing internship can be intimidating, especially when the field is in higher education, where you’re being counted on by universities to professionally represent them and help spread their messages. While the responsibilities at Circa Interactive can be greater than many other internship settings, they ultimately drive you to become dedicated to your work and learn new skills at a high level. Here are four empowering lessons I learned during my time at Circa.

1. Ask for Criticism: It’s How You Grow

Throughout my internship, new concepts and ideas were constantly flying my way. Building out a social calendar, creating media lists on Cision for pitches, and writing pitches that will reach editors of major publications are likely new tasks for someone just entering the digital marketing field. In order to become familiar with one of these new tasks, digital marketers should take their time, but mistakes are bound to happen (which isn’t a bad thing). But sometimes you don’t know if you’re approaching a list from the wrong angle or if your pitch isn’t quite tailored to your list in the most relevant manner possible, which is why asking for criticism is so important. I’ve always thought of positive feedback as criticism only half-baked, so I made it a goal to seek out what it is I do correctly AS WELL AS incorrectly, using the talent pool in the office as a resource for any questions or problems I encountered.

2. Be Flexible and Experiment (with Pitches)

The work environment at Circa is about exploring better ways to accomplish your goals. This can be seen in everything from daily collaboration to how the team shares ideas in the online chat tool called Slack, as well as the weekly editorial meetings that serve as a mini incubator session. You’re given the green light to be flexible and experiment with how you market content and connect professors with the media, so do it! For example, when writing dozens of pitches per week, a little tweak in the subject line or the way you introduce your infographic can really make a difference in the number of responses and publications. You won’t know what works unless you try.

3. Use Social Media as a Daily Learning Experience

Writing copy for social media at Circa Interactive is a truly unique experience, because Circa works with a diverse range of higher education programs. That means every time you build a Facebook/Twitter social calendar for one of the dozens of programs, you’re keeping up to date with the industry news, trends and innovations taking place in such diverse fields as computer science, marketing, and engineering. The goal is to educate the program’s current and prospective audience, which means the person writing the copy for the social calendars has to put in a lot of research. This is why I embraced social media, because it allowed me to keep learning while coming across content that could end up being the lead in the next perfect pitch for our media outreach.

4. Peg ‘em

The ultimate goal when pitching to a journalist is to satisfy the question, “Why should they care?” It’s usually not enough just to have crisp, educational, enticing content. Like most things in marketing, a pitch should be relevant and time sensitive. Attaching (or “pegging”) a recent event in the news relevant to your prospect and pitch can help answer the above question. Think about it, you’re competing against dozens if not hundreds of emails at a time to get an editor’s attention. Just like everything in life, that extra step can be the difference between hearing crickets and landing an opportunity.

Working in higher education has given me a great appreciation for how important digital marketing is to the success of our programs, their students, and the educational system as a whole. These past 4 months at Circa have been instrumental in packing my digital marketing arsenal, which I plan to use for my family’s business as well as for my future business endeavors.

Dennis Donchev is a marketing intern at Circa Interactive and a student at San Diego State University.