9 Takeaways From the 2023 PRNEWS Media Relations Virtual Summit

The PRNEWS 2023 Media Relations Virtual Summit, which took place Wednesday, Dec. 6, covered a range of topics, from media trends to relationship building to data-driven approaches to working with journalists. Following are nine key takeaways for PR pros from the afternoon. The sessions will be available on demand in the coming days.

  1. Tap legacy social media for building relationships. Some reporters keep professional profiles on Instagram, Threads and even Facebook to showcase their work. Facebook also provides a good resource for PR/media groups to build relationships. Here’s one that a panelist recommended: “PR, Marketing and Media Czars.”
  2. Bigger topics and broader reach is not always better. A less popular topic might ignite a connection. For instance, look for reporters starting Substacks about niche topics, or look to niche podcasts, which can lead to longer conversations with a greater audience impact. A carefully-crafted pitch made for two or three trusted media relationships might lead to more meaningful media hits than you’d get from impersonal, spray-and-pray pitches.
  3. Use events to your advantage. If your organization or brand runs events, be sure to keep sending those invites to media and keep your media list updated. Check with media after the event to see if it sparked any ideas for coverage.
  4. Remember that journalists are human beings. Suzanne Struglinski, former journalist turned public relations expert, says the following will set you apart from other pitches: anticipate what a journalist will need to create a story the same way you work to anticipate a client’s needs. She also reminded PR pros that journalists have limited exposure to PR, and they may not know all that goes into a pitch or campaign. It isn’t their goal to ensure your client gets coverage.
  5. Research a journalist’s coverage beforehand. Understanding the reporter’s beat, recent coverage and work style should come before any pitch, Struglinski says.
  6. Earned media is “earned” for a reason. It takes time, according to Renata Nyul, VP of Communications at Northeastern University. She also noted that 92 percent of journalists prefer 1:1 emails; 76 percent prefer exclusives; and 88 percent want short pitches, according to Muck Rack’s State of Journalism 2023 Survey. Moreover, lack of personalization, bad timing and a confusing subject line are the top reasons for rejecting relevant pitches.
  7. Leverage your media coverage for social. Justin Goldstein, founder of Press Record Communications, offered several examples of ways media coverage can serve as a content hub for organic and paid social post activity, including leveraging quotes included in articles to build organic social posts and using media coverage as a tool to connect and collaborate with key influencers.
  8. PR pros have data monitoring tools available to them—so, use them. CLYDE VP Laura Beth Telep offered the woeful statistic: just 15 percent of PR professionals globally use social listening tools for newsjacking. Noting that this is a huge missed opportunity, she recommended three tools with advanced monitoring capabilities: Meltwater Dashboard, which listens to social media conversations; Cision Anayltics, which measures the reach of coverage in real-time; and Newswhip, which predicts how the public will interact with news and gauge potential virality.
  9. Keep communications short and sweet. Crackle Communications Founder Parry Headrick recommended that PR pros take all the fluff out of pitching journalists and limit your emails to a series of quick bullet points when approaching journalists—who are often overworked, understaffed and appreciate clarity and concise communication above all else. The Hill’s SVP and GM Joe Ruffolo agreed. Particularly in light of today's onslaught of fake news and disinformation, media outlets must be committed to representing the truth on a daily basis.