In the dynamic world of digital PR, nurturing journalist relationships is more important than ever. Journalists are the gatekeepers to the media landscape, and establishing meaningful connections with them can be the key to getting your content noticed. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore some invaluable insights from Cision’s 2023 State of The Media Report1 on how to build successful journalist relationships and navigate the changing dynamics of the media industry.


Understanding Journalists’ Challenges

Before delving into the strategies for building journalist relationships, it’s essential to understand the challenges journalists are currently facing. According to the report, journalists are grappling with several issues, including:

  • Maintaining Credibility: Over a quarter (27%) of journalists are concerned about maintaining credibility as trusted news sources and combating accusations of ‘fake news.’
  • Resource Constraints: 20% cite a lack of staffing and resources as a challenge, making it more critical for PR professionals to provide valuable assistance.
  • Declining Revenues: Another 20% face challenges due to declining advertising and circulation revenues, emphasising the need for PR professionals to provide compelling content.
  • Social Media Impact: 19% express concerns about the rise of social networks and influencers bypassing traditional media, which calls for PR strategies that adapt to these changing dynamics.
  • Editorial-Advertising Lines: 11% highlight the blurring lines between editorial and advertising, emphasising the importance of maintaining transparency in your PR efforts.


So where do we, as PR professionals, come in?

Firstly, as representatives for our clients, we can provide journalists with highly reliable data-driven content. Cision stated that 40% of journalists rely more now on data, such as views, engagement, and demographic data, to shape their editorial strategy. With 68% of journalists preferring data in the form of original research, trends, and market data from PR professionals, this is the key entry point for building journalist relationships and showcasing your value. 

Secondly, PRs should be a trustworthy source journalists can contact and include within their stories. According to Cision’s report, journalists rely on various sources for data, with major news wires (27%) and industry experts (23%) being their top choices. This provides a gap for PRs to fill with their client’s expertise and narrative on everything from primary research to breaking news stories and product launches. 


Becoming Indispensable to Journalists

Establishing trust and reliability through data is paramount for gaining coverage for our clients. However, it’s equally crucial to showcase our role as a dependable source for journalists. 

To truly become indispensable to journalists, we must understand their target audience and the content they create for them. A huge 74% of journalists emphasise the significance of comprehending their audience’s needs and maintaining relevance from PRs.

Respecting deadlines is another cornerstone of building successful journalist relationships, with 42% of journalists expecting PR professionals to honour their time constraints and 38% appreciating concise pitches brimming with facts that enable the swift creation of short-form content. 

To further enhance our pitches, 27% recommend incorporating multimedia assets alongside press releases. These practices strengthen our standing with journalists and elevate our contributions to their storytelling endeavours.


Building Journalist Relationships – Green Flags vs. Red Flags

It’s crucial to navigate the landscape with awareness of the green and red flags that can strengthen or hinder relationships with journalists. According to Cision’s report, these are: 


Green flags:

  • Keep providing value and seeking more ways to do so. 
  • Take every opportunity to connect with media professionals in person – Interestingly, 2 in 3 journalists said they prefer to attend an in-person event compared to virtually!
  • Deliver content that journalists find useful and relevant to their audience outlet and platform. 
  • Provide multimedia content where possible. 
  • Invest the time to gain a deeper understanding and draft relevant content that will get media attention. 


Red flags:

  • Don’t overdo it with outreach and follow-ups. 
  • Don’t add to a journalist’s busy schedule and frustrations by sending them irrelevant pitches – 3 in 4 will block a media relations professional who spams them with irrelevant content. 
  • Avoid using clickbait phrases and other red flag phrases such as ‘urgent’, ‘industry-leading’, ‘breaking news’ and ‘innovative’. 57% said they would block PRs who send them pitches that sound like marketing brochures.


With these in mind, to catch a journalist’s attention without appearing too keen, PR professionals should:

  • Reach out in advance to introduce themselves and their expertise.
  • Check-in with journalists on ongoing projects.
  • Use editorial calendars to anticipate needs.
  • Reference journalist’s previous work to show your research and why you think they’d be interested in using your insight.
  • Follow up after a few days, allowing journalists space to respond.


Moving Forward: Leading with Authenticity

Authenticity and empathy are vital in PR efforts. PR professionals can help journalists by understanding and respecting their deadlines, providing accurate information, adapting to new technology, taking a multimedia approach, and effectively using data and resources.

Building strong journalist relationships is a cornerstone of successful digital PR. Journalists are more likely to trust and collaborate with PR professionals who provide value, respect their needs, and offer relevant, data-backed content. 

If you are looking for support with your press outreach and PR strategy, get in touch with the Wild team here to see how we can help or book a 30-minute introductory call with Katrina Cliffe to see how we can support you.

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