You’re probably wondering what Journalistics is all about. While we’re not ready to spill the beans on exactly what we’re up to, it’s only fair that we give you a general idea – since you took the time to visit our blog.
As the founder of Journalistics, I’ve spent the past couple of years observing industry trends and having hundreds of conversations with journalism and public relations professionals about the state of the industry. More specifically, about the state of affairs surrounding media relations. As a PR professional myself, I’ve spent the past 10 years pitching the media – I’ve developed and managed media relations campaigns for at least 100 clients at this point (mostly high-tech startups).
When I started out in PR – like many of you – I was handed a media list and a release and told to “smile and dial.” In the early days, results came easy. I got a rush out of placing stories and working a media list that way seemed to work fine. Over the course of the past couple of years, it’s seemed more difficult to get results for clients. Sure, a lot has changed in the worlds of journalism and media relations – but in a lot of ways, the approach and exchange are the same.
I think my close ratio really went down because I stopped trying to force-feed pitches to journalists that just weren’t interested. It was a waste of my time to pitch stories that I knew journalists were never going to cover. Even when the story is a good fit for an outlet, there are probably dozens of reasons why it may not be a good fit for the format, timeframe, etc. The truth is, a lot of the stories that are pitched aren’t really that newsworthy – and ultimately, it’s up to the media to make this call.
On the media side of the equation, I actually feel bad for a lot of the journalists I’ve had the opportunity to talk to about this. Their phones ring off the hook all day, and their inboxes are filled to the brim with off-topic pitches. The number one complaint from journalists is that PR people don’t spend enough time getting to know what they write about, what information they value, and how they like to receive the info. Another common complaint is that less than 10 percent of the information they receive from PR people is relevant to the stories they’re working on.
Most journalists today are overwhelmed as it is. They’re expected to do more with less, and produce more stories across multiple formats, with increased competition from all angles. They need help, but they don’t need more distractions. Most journalists are receptive to receiving relevant information from PR professionals, but I have only found a couple of journalists so far whom this happens on a regular basis.
Public relations professionals are under more pressure to get results than ever – clients demand it. The days of the press release and mass distribution of pitches are almost gone. We’re now operating in a one-to-one media relations environment, and professionals need to understand the journalists they’re pitching more than ever. They are being held accountable by journalists and their peers more than ever. Bad pitches and unprofessional behavior – while limited to a subset of professionals – make it increasingly difficult for those that do their legwork to break through the filters and generate results. And let’s face it, there’s no excuse to send an off-topic pitch anymore. We have all the information we’d ever need at our fingertips to target the right journalist, with the right information, at the right time. It’s not rocket science.
We’ve only seen the beginning of the impact PR blacklists and journalist push-back can have on our ability to work with the media. Many journalists have had enough, and it’s time to start stepping up our game and utilizing the tools and technologies at our disposal to change things for the better. Regardless of whether you’re working on your own, or are part of a large PR team, it’s ultimately your reputation that’s on the line when you pitch a journalist. You can either build strong relationships and make yourself more valuable as a resource for the media or find yourself on the receiving end of some harsh – possibly public – criticism for your behavior.
I think there are a lot of areas where media relations can be improved. I think there are opportunities to develop a new breed of PR solutions to address the growing needs on both the journalism and media relations side of the equation. I also think there are a lot of ways we can help journalists do their jobs more efficiently, rather than creating more problems for them. That’s the inspiration behind Journalistics. I’ve assembled a team that’s going to help me build some new solutions – we’re moving full speed ahead, but we have no intention of doing it alone. This is where you come in.
If you’re a journalist or media relations professional, we want to hear from you. While we have already worked with many journalists and PR pros already to develop and refine our initial ideas, we believe there are many more of you out there that share in our desire to address these issues head-on, to collaborate on bringing better solutions to market. We know we’re not alone on this quest – in the past year alone we’ve seen several new ideas come to market that reflect what we’re talking about. Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is the best example I can think of. Sarah Evan’s efforts around #journchat – a regular forum between journalists and PR pros, conducted through Twitter, is another great example. But there is room for even more comprehensive solutions to help PR pros target and interact with journalists professionally, and to help them review, process, filter and act on PR requests – without being bombarded with information they have no use for.
That’s where I’d like to leave things for this first post. We plan to introduce several ways for you to get involved with our efforts over the months to come. For now, we’re using this blog as a sounding board to begin working through some of the issues we see in the industry. Feel free to comment on our posts, follow us and engage with us on Twitter, or email us at feedback AT journalistics DOT COM if you’d like to learn more now.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing journalists and media relations professionals today? What solutions are you currently using to do your job more effectively? Where do you see gaps in the solutions you have on hand to do your job effectively and efficiently? We want to hear from you.
Thanks for stopping by. We hope you’ll continue to follow our progress.