2021 State of Journalism According to Us

man at a typewriter with cigar

Our best friends at Muck Rack compiled their 2021 State of Journalism report by surveying 2,482 journalists from January 11th to February 8th, 2021. Considering some of the responses, we’re hoping these are the really mean journalists and the nice ones simply didn’t have time to respond.

You can read the full report here or just read our cliff notes below, which are highly entertaining.

Anyways, here are the main takeaways (for us).

Holier than thou

The report says only 6% of journalists see their relationship with PR pros as a partnership. 17% view it as a necessary evil, 18% describe it as ‘antagonistic’ and 59% describe it as ‘mutually beneficial, but not quite a partnership.’

Cool, we heart you too. 

No time to read an email

91% of journalists prefer pitches under 200 words. Nearly half (46%) prefer 1-200 words and a quarter (25%) prefer under 100 words. (We got one word for you but it’s probably not pitch-worthy.)

In other words, if you’re sharing the discovery of an alien civilization, found within a black hole 3 trillion light-years away, do it quickly. The details are not important, and don’t even think about attaching supporting documents – the nerve! 

Follow the made-up rules step-by-step

As in past years, 1:1 email is most journalists’ preferred pitching channel. Again, phone is the least popular channel, followed by social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. The majority of those who wrote in answers for ‘Other’ said SMS, WhatsApp, and other messaging apps

Don’t you dare use the internet or social media to connect with a journalist, that is reserved strictly for their adoring fans.

Also, only pitch on Mondays, if you absolutely must…Tuesdays are okay and make sure the email arrives between 5:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Don’t forget to jump up and down on one leg and do the hokey pokey, all while reciting the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

Pitches are dumb

When asked what percentage of their stories result from pitches, the % of journalists who said ‘None’ of their stories came from pitches fell from 28% last year to 19% this year. Concurrently, the portion who said ‘A quarter’ grew from 52% to 61%.

Let that sink in, 19% receive no information from PR pros and their stories are 100% the result of themselves and only them. 

Muck Rack also asked the 2,000+ PR-hating journalists why they immediately (their word, not ours) reject otherwise timely pitches? 

Before we get to the journalist’s responses, which indicates they didn’t actually read the corresponding answer choices, we’d like to point out that even the surveyors were like, “why are you guys such dicks?”

Muck Rack’s summary of the response is fantastic, they point out that unlike every other year they’ve conducted the survey, lack of personalization wasn’t the #1 reason journalists reject otherwise relevant pitches. Instead, bad timing and ‘other’ tied for #1 at 25%. Lack of personalization came in next at 21%. 

However, ‘Other’ consisted mostly of people who wrote in answers like ‘irrelevant’ ‘random’, and ‘not localized’, which could be considered subsets of ‘Lack of personalization’.

Translation: you guys work with words but the question must have been too close to the 200-word limit so you didn’t bother to actually read the answer choices…so we’ll go ahead and fix your response.

Now might be a good time for us to point out that PR pros and journalists have a love/hate relationship with the hate mostly coming from one side (we’ll let you determine which that is – this blog should not influence your choice).
If you’d like more insights like these, buy us a drink first.

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