Journalist Survey Offers Comms Tips

Thom Weidlich 04.15.21


Muck Rack, provider of public-relations software, has released this year’s annual survey of journalists. While not focused on crisis, it does provide valuable knowledge (and therefore, tips) for crisis communicators in dealing with reporters.

In terms of social-media channels for broadcasting messages, “The State of Journalism 2021” survey found that Twitter is by far the scribblers’ “most valuable” for their work. “I do think there’s something about Twitter that’s fundamentally news centric in a way the other platforms haven’t been as much,” TechCrunch Senior Writer Anthony Ha said during a Muck Rack webinar on the findings.

Twitter was followed by Facebook and LinkedIn. Also important for communicators to know: 58 percent of the journalists said they usually or always consult a company’s social media when reporting.

Asked their view on the most credible sources for news gathering, 86 percent of the respondents picked academics. But CEOs were the runners-up, at 74 percent. That should help communicators see the important role firm leaders play in communicating during a crisis. We’re also happy to report that next in line were company PR professionals and agency PR professionals.

‘Necessary Evil’

Speaking of that: The journalists were asked how they generally view their relationship with PR people. The majority (59 percent) agreed it was “mutually beneficial, but not quite a partnership.” That sounds right to us — and what it should be. Nearly a quarter said it was “antagonistic, but not inherently a bad thing.” Only a few (6 percent) deemed the relationship “a partnership.” And then there were those cynical journalists (17 percent) who called it “a necessary evil.”

Again, that’s something to keep in mind when communicating a crisis. The hacks aren’t there to help you; they’re there to get their story. The flacks are part of the process.

Muck Rack had some great questions on pitching. By far, the reporters’ preferred channel through which to be approached is email (94 percent) — and two-thirds said they don’t like to be solicited by phone. Monday was by far the favorite day to be contacted (57 percent), followed by Tuesday (20 percent). Mornings are definitely the preferred time.


I do think there’s something about Twitter that’s fundamentally news centric in a way the other platforms haven’t been as much.

— TechCrunch Senior Writer Anthony Ha

A plurality (43 percent) of respondents said they get one to five pitches a day and a majority (61 percent) said about a quarter of their published stories come from pitches. Nearly half said they were much more likely to cover a story if it’s offered as an exclusive. The biggest reasons for rejecting a pitch were bad timing, lack of personalization and being too long (91 percent said they like pitches to be under 200 words).


In terms of nagging a reporter post-pitch, 52 percent said one follow-up email was acceptable (30 percent said two would pass muster) and a vast majority (86 percent) said it’s best to follow up within a week (36 percent said a day or two is okay).

So, some news you can use.

Muck Rack queried 2,482 journalists from Jan. 11 to Feb. 8. Most work in print and online but some in TV and radio. Many cover politics, government, legal, business and finance.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Related:How to Work With Reporters During a Crisis