PR Roundup: TikTok Ban, HARO Relaunches as HERO, Positive Media Engagement

Tik Tok application icon on iPhone screen. Tiktok Social media network.

This week’s PR Roundup looks at the impact of POTUS signing a federal TikTok bill into law, Propel’s Q1 Media Barometer findings and HARO relaunching as HERO.

TikTok Bill Signed Into Law

What Happened: President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that is essentially trying to force TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to stop operating in the United States or face a ban of the app in the country.

This comes after months of deliberation, where political leaders warned of potential national security issues raised with the apps sharing of personal information to the Chinese government. TikTok of course responded by saying it never has nor it intended to do that with user data.

The bill requires ByteDance to sell TikTok within nine months to a year, so the 150 million U.S. users do have time to figure out possible exit strategies. Currently, the U.S. is the largest TikTok audience on the platform.

However, TikTok is for sure lawyering up and not going down without a fight. CEO Shou Chew took to social media to provide a statement to assure users of security measures the organization has taken, the benefits the app provides to business owners and personal users alike, and that TikTok was not going away.

Communication takeaways: Megan Hueter, Head of Digital Strategy and Innovation at MikeWorldWide, says while this is not the end of TikTok it may be the beginning of a long legal battle that could take time to work through. That being said, Hueter believes there’s no need for communicators to panic about their TikTok strategies.

“I think it's wise to take a wait-and-see approach here,” she says. “This is going to take time to play out. There's no need to rush to any decisions.”

However, she notes, it does point to the fact that media and creators need to diversify their presence across platforms.

“It's important to not singularly depend on one,” she says. “I also advise a contingency plan—it's a smart exercise to consider. If the platform does get banned or materially changes in nature with a sale, consumers will crave content elsewhere. That's where smart brands will be.”

The irony in all of this? According to NBC News, Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign told the outlet that it would continue to use TikTok to reach voters for at least the next year.

Journalist Response Rates Increase

What happened: Propel, a Public Relations Management (PRM) platform, released its latest Media Barometer for Q1 2024. Every quarter Propel does a study on nearly a half million pitches sent to journalists, sharing its findings in this report.

In good news for PR professionals, the barometer found that journalist response rates to the pitches sent through the platform in Q1 rose to 3.43%. This is a 9% increase over Q4 2023.

According to Propel, Q1 2024 saw the highest journalist responses since Propel began coming out with its Media Barometer. Interestingly enough, this increased response rate comes as PR professionals sent 4% fewer pitches.

Other notable findings include:

  • 1-5 words are best in a subject line for a pitch, closely followed by 6-9 words.

  • Out of every weekday, journalists responded to the most pitches on Thursday, yet the day with the most pitches sent was Tuesday.

  • Pitches to influencers increased 454%, while podcasters responded 23% less than last quarter.

  • The most pitched topic of the quarter was artificial intelligence. There were 42% more pitches mentioning AI in Q1 2024 than in Q4 2023. However, given the overwhelming amount of pitches mentioning this tech, journalist responses dropped by 62%.

Communication takeaways: Zach Cutler, Co-Founder & CEO of Propel, says based on their research it appears PR professionals are relying less on spray and pray methods.

“A major factor playing a part in this change in tactics seems to be the large-scale adoption of AI into PR workflows,” Cutler says. “AI gives communicators their time back, which is then used to develop better strategies and write more personalized pitches.

He notes that despite newsroom cuts, impactful pitches are still working for journalists.

“It’s still possible to get impactful earned media coverage as long as there’s an effective strategy, and the communicator is willing to take the time to research and personalize their message.”

HERO Launches

What happened: PR’s old friend Peter Shankman is trying to make communicators’ and reporters’ lives easier once again. Shankman, original founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO), launched Help Every Reporter Out (HERO) in response to the prior’s shut down by Cision this month.

Cision sent an email asking users to sign up for, to access HARO queries, and said the daily HARO queries email newsletters would be replaced with a new, searchable query feed in Connectively.

HERO is an evolution of the former service, aimed at bridging the gap between journalists seeking sources and PR professionals looking to showcase their expertise. HARO’s original service was an essential daily tool for thousands of media and PR professionals.

HERO has already seen a welcoming reception, with over 10,250 signups within the first 32 hours of launch.

Communication takeaways: Shankman felt he was called back to do what he knew best, and that the time was right to build a new way for journalists and sources to connect.

“At the end of the day, HERO is not only a better way for PR people to connect with the journalists that need them, but it's also a way to foster and build a better relationship between the media and the PR industry as a whole,” he says.

Shankman also notes HERO will be closely monitored on both sides.

“Quality media queries as well as quality source responses are what will make HERO so incredibly valuable to all who use it.”

Nicole Schuman is Managing Editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal.