Home > PR > Changing Relations with Business and Media: Summaries to 3 Studies for Communicators

Changing Relations with Business and Media: Summaries to 3 Studies for Communicators

One study shows communicators are faced with growing workloads, but their relationship with business has strengthened; two studies offer a look at media relations insights

There’s a lot of talk lately about getting back to normal and while things are headed in that direction, I think we’ve also got to recognize some things have changed permanently.

Figuring out which is which – is the challenge. That’s true across every business function and vertical. For communicators, there’s have been a handful of studies published that will help you think it through.

Here’s a quick roundup summarizing those studies.

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1. Comms departments have stronger business relationships post-COVID

The Coronavirus pandemic has left communications teams with more work but also stronger business relationships. That’s according to a survey of 750 communicators tallied up in the 2021 Communications Benchmark Report by Ragan Communications.

When asked how COVID-19 affected the communications department, nearly 8 in ten (79%) respondents said they felt an increased workload. Additionally, 42% said the comms shop had strengthened relationships with other departments – and about a quarter (26%) said they gained a seat at the strategic table and one in five (21%) said they had better access to the CEO.

According to a survey, comms professionals gave themselves good grades. About half (52%) “rate their efforts as above average or excellent, an 11 percentage-point gain from last year.” This mirrors the sentiment in a separate survey that quantified a self-assessment by CMOs.

One other point that stood out to me: 31% of respondents say their communications budgets range between $50,000 and $500,000. About 20% said their budget is greater than $500,000.

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2. Insights for better success with media pitches

“Fifty-three percent of journalists receive more than 50 pitches a week, and 28% receive more than 100 per week. Yet most journalists (69%) say only a quarter (or less) of the pitches they receive are relevant to their audiences.” That’s according to the 12th annual State of the Media Report by Cision, which surveyed 2,700 journalists in 15 countries.

It also showed that reporters are as busy as ever: nearly half (47%) strive to cover as many as five different beats and 45% file seven or more stories per week. Think about how much work that is: try writing a blog post every day – then add two more.

Reporters also becoming more analytical about their editorial decisions: 59% percent of reporters indicated that detailed audience metrics – like page views, engagements and demographic data – have changed how they consider stories to write.

Some of the story angles they are looking for this year include:

  • 46% said, “new angles for COVID-19 coverage.”
  • 37% said, “‘feel good’” stories on how companies and communities are helping others.
  • 33% said, “stories on furthering diversity, inclusion and equality.”
    32% said, “how companies and communities are getting back to normal.”
  • 30% said, “new technologies that are helping businesses and consumers.”
  • 29% said, “more research-based, thought leadership content covering topical issues.”

There was one other nugget that stood out for me in the report: 60% of reporters that responded to the survey said they prefer receiving pitches on Monday – which defies conventional wisdom.

A separate survey I wrote about earlier this year by Muck Rack had some interesting findings about journalists and their use of social media for reporting.

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3. Open and response rates to email story pitches

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned an analysis of 650,000 pitches, sent between March 2020 until March 2021, by the PR tech startup Propel. It found that Forbes, Business Insider and The Wall Street Journal are the most pitched publications in the U.S.

That’s no surprise, but I circled back to look at some of the other findings of the study, which included the email open rates for pitches sent to some publications.

Here are the email open rates for pitches sent to these publications.

  • TechCrunch 85%
  • The Wall Street Journal 80%
  • The Financial Times 79%
  • The New York Times 74%
  • Industry Dive 72%
  • The Guardian 63%
  • Business Insider 60%
  • BuzzFeed 57%

This meshes with my own experience. I’ve often found that good story pitches to reporters working at top-tier outlets will get a fair look. There are a lot of factors that go into a decision to cover a story, however, as the response rates show.

Propel looked at categories of pitches – sent to media publications of all tiers – and you can see the open rates fall and the response rates are low. For example, if you look at the technology and computing category, just about one in three pitches are read (34%) and just 4% get a response.

The study doesn’t say this, but if you’re pitching stories that aren’t news from a reporter’s point-of-view, you’ll see your open rates fall off too.

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[Need an extra pair of hands? More than a proactive partner: an extension of your marketing and PR team. Check out our services.]

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Image credits: respective surveys; I made the chart listed with the Propel study based on their data

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