The media landscape has changed significantly over the past 15 years. When I first started out in PR, almost all of my work centered around pitching the media. I was either pitching stories about the business, hoping to get placement in top-tier, broadcast and industry trade publications, or pitching our own journalists (I worked at a media company!) and executives as experts who could comment on specific topics. We didn’t always nail it, but I’d say we got coverage more often than we were turned down.
Now, it’s much harder to secure media coverage, from op-eds and broadcast interviews to feature stories and product write-ups. Here’s why:
First, publications are increasingly moving to pay-to-play.
With the introduction of social media, blogs and email marketing, people began to rely less heavily on the traditional publishing industry, creating a domino effect. Media outlets—magazines, newspapers, broadcast outlets—were forced to rethink their business models and usher in a more heavy pay-to-play model just to stay alive.
In addition to many publications putting their content behind paywalls, most now offer opportunities to either pay to publish an article (like this New York Times example) or pay a membership fee for access to editors and coverage (like Forbes’ Members Council and Entrepreneur’s Leadership Network).
This has led to less page space and air time for non-sponsored content, making it harder to get your guest blog published or your product featured for “free.”
In a recent Muck Rack report, nearly 60% of communications professionals—people who do this work for a living—said getting responses from journalists is their biggest challenge right now.
Second, journalists are busier than ever.
U.S. newsroom employment has fallen 26% since 2008, with the average journalist now covering three or more beats. In other words, the same person could be covering COVID-19, technology and sports for their publication. That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning, articles to write and pitches to wade through.
The simple math is: More pitches + less space + overworked journalists = hard to secure coverage.
So don’t get discouraged if your pitches aren’t getting answered. As you can see, it’s a hard nut to crack right now (I just got turned down from a publication my work has already been featured in!). Keep pitching, while also looking for other ways to promote your work—like self-publishing your articles on LinkedIn, appearing on industry podcasts, speaking at industry events, joining Meetups and networking groups and cross-promoting your work with industry peers.
It’s the cumulative effort that starts to create momentum, not any one story.
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