How to Cut Through the Media Clutter

December 15, 2022

If you work in PR, you know that the media landscape is constantly changing, from year to year and even day to day! Targeted, well-researched media lists and perfectly crafted pitches can make or break the success of a campaign. Reaching the right people, specifically through pitching, has become increasingly challenging for two reasons:

  1. Newsrooms have shrunk significantly, forcing PR professionals to rely heavily on freelancers that cover multiple publications and beats.
  2. Consumer media coverage has shifted due to online demand or resources, resulting in the elimination of traditional sections focused on home and lifestyle topics.

According to Pew Research Center, the total number of newspaper reporters shrunk by 57% from 2020 to 2004, with total revenue and circulation taking a substantial hit as well. This is especially pertinent for PR pros who rely on journalists to feature their client’s stories and elevate their brands.

Another startling statistic impacting our industry, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, is that there are 6.4 PR professionals for every journalist in America, a 44% increase since 2002. What does this mean? Pitching has become more competitive than ever. To succeed, you need to have the right strategy to reach the contacts that are most likely to feature your content.

In today’s crowded and fiercely competitive content marketplace, freelancers have become increasingly important to agencies like ours that specialize in promoting home, lifestyle and healthcare clients. Often connected to multiple media outlets, these versatile writers and content creators can get your clients “in the door” with targeted media and expand your network of outlets.

Here are a few tips for reaching freelancers in an ever-changing media landscape:

  1. Do your research. Finding the right contacts, whether they be static employees or freelance writers, requires a lot of work on the “back end”. In many cases, these multi-faceted experts may not populate in mainstream media sources such as Cision or MuckRack. You may need to mine alternative outlets, such as Twitter, LinkedIn or portfolio websites to find the writers and contact information you need.
  2. Work backward. If you feel stuck when building a media list, consider a “work backward” approach. Start with the publications where you’d like to garner coverage for your client. Flip or scroll through the pages – either manually or digitally. Note the topics. What are they writing about? How are the stories framed? What names are in the bylines? This intel will lead you to the right contacts for your pitches.
  3. Establish relationships. As freelancers become more common contacts, it’s to your benefit to establish a consistent cadence of communication. This might look like a traditional pitch or a series of check-in emails or voice messages. Demonstrating your ongoing interest in their work will go a long way toward establishing a solid connection and your reputation as a credible resource.

Ultimately, the key to success is being resourceful. Strategy and personalization are more important than ever. Time-consuming? Yes. But never underestimate the impact of spot-on impressions for your team, agency and most of all your clients.