PRs should ditch phone calls and pitch by email – survey of journalists

Journalists find phone calls irritating and would prefer PR professionals understand what they write about before pitching irrelevant content, a new poll has found.

Journalists find phone call pitches infuriating, a new study has found (Photo: Getty Images)
Journalists find phone call pitches infuriating, a new study has found (Photo: Getty Images)

Nine in 10 journalists would prefer PR professionals pitch via email instead of phone calls, a new study of 200 national news and lifestyle journalists has found.

As the media landscape has changed substantially in recent years, more than a third (35 per cent) want PR practitioners to adapt their sell-in techniques to take into account journalists' working patterns and how time-poor they are.

A major gripe, cited by 85 per cent of respondents, is PR professionals pitching irrelevant content that has no bearing on what a journalist or their publication covers.

This was followed by sending over branded press releases that do not contain anything newsworthy (59 per cent) and follow-up email and calls to ask whether a story will be used after an initial pitch (49 per cent).

There was also frustration over pitching stories that have been published by another outlet, particularly between rivals, and expecting too much client branding in copy (both cited by 43 per cent).

According to the study, by GingerComms and its polling arm Perspectus Global, the average news journalist receives about 63 pitches from PRs every day. Of these, less than a quarter (23 percent) contain anything of interest to them.

Journalists were also asked to advise on how PR professionals can improve pitching. The three top tips (see full list below) are: know the media they are pitching to; know the difference between advertorial and editorial content; and be concise.

Perspectus Global and GingerComms founder and managing director Harriet Scott said: “There are different views across the PR industry about the best way to pitch to journalists, with many old-school practitioners believing a telephone call is the best way to cut through. Yet our research shows that the vast majority of news journalists would much rather be emailed.

“Pitching should be a short and sweet process: be concise, include all info the journalist will need, and don’t expect feedback on every story you sell in. As the media landscape evolves, so should the methods of PRs.”

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