It comes as no surprise that over the last few years, technology and communication tools have drastically changed. Combine rapid technological advancement with numerous layoffs and reorgs, and you’ll find the media landscape has undergone quite a profound evolution. National Geographic laid off its remaining staff writers this year, the New York Times disbanded its sports department and reporters are more often serving as contributors than full-time staffers. Given these changes, it’s more important than ever to know how to best connect with journalists and tell stories that matter.
For PR professionals, it’s essential to stay ahead of change to effectively communicate and elevate our clients’ reputations. Relationships are at the heart of everything we do, and we’re continuously looking for better ways to communicate with those in the media, whether through social platforms like X (formerly known as Twitter) or story-sourcing platforms like Qwoted and HARO (Help a Reporter Out). We’re tapping reporters where they are, letting go of old ways of working and embracing the future of media.
Pierce PR pros Julia Bonner, Bri Carlesimo and Mckenzie Masters explore a few key trends reshaping the media landscape and what they mean for us and our clients.
Reassess the value of wire services & media databases
Julia Bonner, president
When I started my career, using wire services and media databases was a given for PR agencies and their clients. As the media landscape has changed, however, these tools have become significantly less effective in securing media coverage, and we use them far less frequently.
Wire services rarely generate quality news coverage these days. Although they provide extensive reports on announcement reach, most of the coverage has little to no ROI. To ensure client news reaches the right people, our team conducts one-on-one outreach to journalists and consistently works to develop personal, authentic, mutually beneficial relationships with reporters. We occasionally recommend the use of a wire service for national or global news, but we almost never recommend wire services for local news or targeted announcements.
Media databases have also become less reliable as the media landscape has evolved. Contacts are often outdated because journalists frequently change roles, and many publications have restructured and eliminated or consolidated positions. In addition, there are more freelance journalists and niche publications than ever before, which makes it hard for these databases to keep current contact and outlet information. We manually research all contacts prior to outreach and often check personal social media platforms like X, formerly Twitter, to find updated contact information and areas of interest.
Participate in timely and trending requests through social platforms like X
Bri Carlesimo, senior account manager
Most PR pros know the importance of monitoring social media for trends and conversations happening within their clients’ various industries. Longstanding social media platforms like X and newer platforms like Meta’s Threads offer a unique opportunity to tap into real-time news and trends across the world.
While there have been tumultuous times at X over the past year, this platform can still be very beneficial to PR professionals. Many journalists, especially freelancers, continue to use the platform to seek story ideas and sources as they put pieces together. This gives PR pros who monitor requests on the platform the ability to connect reporters with thought leaders.
This approach can open the door to new relationships or outlets for clients as well, especially in national roundup pieces. For example, a journalist from Fortune Magazine posted a request to X asking colleagues to submit sources for a story she was writing about leadership. We submitted the CEO of a client firm after seeing her request, and he was prominently featured in the piece alongside executives from several Fortune 500 companies.
Seamlessly connect with reporters through platforms like Qwoted and HARO
Mckenzie Masters, senior account manager
It’s no secret the last few years changed the way we interact with others, particularly online. In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, establishing a strong online presence and maintaining a positive reputation are essential for organizations and individuals alike. This is where platforms like Qwoted and HARO step in, revolutionizing the way we engage with the media and amplify our clients’ voices and brands.
While both platforms share some similarities – they’re (mainly) free and are used to connect with reporters and freelancers writing for a number of outlets across the country and world – they vary slightly in execution. For example, Qwoted simplifies the process of media outreach by offering a centralized platform for journalists and sources to connect. Whether you’re a subject matter expert or a journalist in search of diverse voices, Qwoted streamlines the networking process, making it easier than ever to share expert insights on topics of interest. You simply submit the pitch via the website by the decided deadline, and Qwoted provides helpful stats to help manage your outreach like letting you know if the reporter has read your pitch or responded.
HARO also connects journalists with expert sources, but instead of a website, it does so via email. Three times a day, you receive requests for expert opinions for various stories in your inbox. By responding to media queries by the established deadline, you can position yourself (or your client) as a thought leader, garner invaluable media coverage and build trust among your target audience. As a result of these platforms, we’ve secured client coverage in outlets like CBS News, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, New York Post and Business Insider.
While the old-fashioned way of pitching media still exists, the media landscape has certainly shifted and continues to evolve. The platforms of today offer opportunities to share timely insights with outlets and reporters who may be great fits for the stories you have to tell. Harnessing the power of these platforms can unlock opportunities you wouldn’t have found otherwise, all while building credibility and rapport with journalists and meeting them where they are.