As a journalist, I get pitches via email — a lot of them. But these days, I also get pitched via Direct Message on Twitter and Messaging on LinkedIn. Publicists are better at finding the right journalists, pitching with precision and measuring results than ever before. Comms tech is the game changer.
Does anyone have time for phone calls anymore? Muck Rack is a software and services provider for PR professionals. Statistics from its State of Journalism 2020 survey bear out my sense that trying to pitch by phone is a waste of time: 69% of journalists — and I’m one of them — prefer not to be reached by phone. While the one-to-one email is the most favored channel, both by publicists and journalists, 29% of PR pros pitch journalists on Twitter.
I asked Muck Rack cofounder and CEO Gregory Galant whether there is anything especially cutting edge about sending an email.
“Technology has given PR pros the ability to send and schedule hyper-targeted emails and follow-ups to journalists,” he says. It also helps them understand the effectiveness of their pitches through open and click rates. “While this has been a common practice for other departments like sales for years, PR tech is just catching up.”
Do publicists have time to get trained on the latest technology? There’s a sense in the industry that marketing and even sales teams are way ahead when it comes to managing workloads through dashboards and apps.
While it might once have been possible to track journalists writing about relevant topics using a spreadsheet, even a Rolodex, the volume of published content today, and the velocity at which journalists change roles and jobs, is putting technology front-and-center when it comes to managing media contact lists.
“Technology can make it easy for teams to quickly sort through millions of data points,” says Galant. “Being able to identify the most relevant journalists based on their past articles, tweets and self-identified pitching preferences is a game changer for successful pitching.”
Muck Rack maintains a database of journalists, in which the journalists themselves can set out their pitching preferences. “While it’s generally not a good practice to pitch journalists on Twitter based on our survey data,” Galant observes, “Twitter is an excellent way to build relationships with journalists before or after pitching them.”
Both Twitter and LinkedIn, unlike long email chains, provide opportunities to foster media relationships remotely. What could be more important in 2020, when COVID-19 makes a quick meet-up over coffee impossible?
Publicists are not only remote from journalists, they’re remote from each other. Technology can coordinate activity when it comes to media relationships, including forestalling multiple pitches by team members to the same journalist (yes, that does still happen).
“It’s more important than ever that teams are able to quickly see what their colleagues are working on without having to micromanage them,” says Galant. “This allows managers to focus on strategy and set goals instead of needing to constantly check in.”