January 21st, 2022

When is the best time to pitch a media story? New report shares insights from journalists

Medianet’s 2022 Australian Media Landscape survey report has been released, offering excellent insights for PR professionals into the preferences of journalists regarding media pitches and press releases.

The report, which was conducted between October and November in 2021, is based on 983 respondents.

It delves into topics such as when is the preferred day and time for journalists to receive media pitches, what is most important to them in a pitch, how they prefer to be contacted and whether they appreciate follow-up calls.

London Agency’s view on best practice for media pitches


Data should be a cornerstone of your approach to media relations, but real-world experience must also be considered before you commit to a strategy founded entirely on the insights in this report.

For example, while exclusivity may not have been listed as an important component to a PR pitch, many skilled media relations specialists will note how much a journalist is put off by knowing a story has been shared with other news outlets.

In a busy news cycle, it is very easy for an email to be lost to the sheer volume of media pitches landing in an inbox so do not be afraid to pick up the phone to a journalist.

Finally, while the media is looking for “feel good” stories to counter negative COVID reporting, timing is important here and it is very easy for such stories to be disregarded in favour of bread-and-butter hard news. A thorough premortem of any ‘lighter’ story should be given ahead of pitching.

We explore: 

1. When and how to present media pitches


The report highlighted 96% of journalists would like to be contacted by email over a phone call, however, a further 8/10 asserted that they also did not appreciate follow-up emails or calls.

Mornings were a well-liked time for receiving a media pitch, along with Mondays, with popularity decreasing through the subsequent weekdays.

Fifty-eight percent of journalists maintained that one to two paragraphs was the ideal length for a pitch, followed by a preference for several paragraphs or more.

2. The most important elements of a media pitch


Journalists in the report asserted that the content, rather than email etiquette or timeliness, was most important in a pitch or media release. Whether the matter is relevant to their area of work and target audience was overwhelmingly the most valued aspect when receiving pitches.

This was followed by value seen in originality and having unique content, as well as availability of a spokesperson to provide further comment.

Of the total respondents, 51% also noted that either they or their media organisations were increasingly seeking “feel good” content to balance out often negative pandemic reporting.

News value and human interest were regarded by journalists as the most important features of their work.

Being impartial in the work they produce was also considered important by 67% who maintained that they always aim for objectivity.

3. Less important elements of a media pitch


Features of pitches that ranked lower included offers for an exclusive, appropriate length of an email or pitch or correct spelling and grammar.

Email etiquette, infographics or data being included, convenient timing of a pitch and receiving a pitch or press release from a known contact were also disregarded as a top priority by journalists.

4. ‘Pet peeves’


Asked to identify their top three ‘pet peeves’, receiving pitches that were irrelevant to their field and target audience was the most common. This was followed by the pitch lacking news value and being contacted too often by PR professionals.

One respondent also noted the importance of a pitch being concise, stating that “I need to spend brain space deciphering what the press release means. Just give me the point and why it matters to our audience!”

 If you’re planning for your media campaign, make sure you download our media checklist first here.

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