What PR Pros Should Expect from the Media Landscape in 2024  

Integrated earned media has been a core offering of The Bliss Group since its founding in 1975. While relationships with reporters and journalists remain critical, Bliss uses the term “integrated” to refer to three core components that distinguish our approach to earned media and reflect the evolution of best practices: 

  1. Strong relationships with key reporters 
  1. An analytics informed approach  
  1. Paid, shared, and owned considerations (aligned with the full PESO model)  

Bliss uses analytics across practice groups and offerings, and our approach to earned media is no exception. And the data we collect and analyze doesn’t just sit around — we turn these insights into action. This is especially critical in a media landscape struck by reporter layoffs, shrinking the pool of journalists and outlets. 

What Are Journalists Up Against? 

Geopolitical tensions rose in recent years and became especially salient when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. The 2023 Israel-Hamas war further exacerbated a dangerous environment for journalists and their peers across the world. According to The Committee to Protect Journalists, 99 journalists and media workers were killed in 2023 and 11 have been killed in the first two months of 2024.  

In addition to life-threating danger, journalists are also confronted with an uncertain economic climate, which has impacted around two-thirds of media professionals. 2023 saw a record number of media jobs cut, with notable layoffs at Condé Nast, Vox Media, NPR, BuzzFeed and Jezebel — just to name a few.  

Other top concerns for the industry include lack of funding and disinformation, according to Muck Rack’s State of Journalism Report

Journalists are also in competition with major social media platforms. Today, roughly half of Americans say they regularly consume some form of news via social media platforms. Facebook leads social media platforms in news consumption, followed by YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter). 

Analytics Behind Earned Media 

Relationships are critical, especially in a bleak newsroom environment where many reporters are up against tight deadlines, an increased workload, and know peers and former colleagues who have been laid off. 

While it’s not the full solution, PR professionals can utilize data and analytics to support a more productive and sensitive relationship with reporters, helping to smooth the pitch process. 

To do just this, Bliss examined takeaways from three major media data organizations — Cision, Memo and MuckRack:  

Cision’s 2023 State of the Media Report 

  • Data Drives Coverage: 68% of journalists want to receive original research, such as trends and market data.  
  • Competing Noise: The average journalist is sent up to 100 pitches per week, meaning each pitch we send needs to cut through the noise, appeal to their audience and say something different.  
  • 43% of journalists cover five or more beats and 29% file 10 or more stories per week. 

Memo’s State of the Media & Readership Report 2023 

  • Wednesdays are the busiest news days. 
  • Readership around brands spikes on Mondays, Fridays and weekends. In fact, articles published on the weekends get 63% more readership. 
  • Some publications drive consistently high readership around surprising topics (e.g., midterm elections results, Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, Russia-Ukraine war, shooting in Uvalde, Texas). 

Muck Rack’s The State of Journalism 2023 

  • The number of journalists who say they’re more likely to respond to pitches now compared to last year has increased by about 7%. 
  • Fewer journalists find CEOs to be credible sources — 74% found them credible in the 2021 report versus 62% this year. 
  • Millennials and Gen X are the most commonly cited target audiences for journalists. 

By combining the above insights with our own original analysis, we identified best practices to guide the media outreach process. The Bliss Group’s Media Specialist team partnered with our Innovation team to analyze a representative sample of 967 media pitches to understand what metrics guide a successful pitch. Of the 967 pitches analyzed, 452 (46.7%) were successful and accepted by a reporter. Key highlights include:  

  • The average subject line character count of a successful pitch was 69 characters. 
  • 87.6% of successful pitches were less than 301 words and 38.9% had a word count between 101 and 201.  
  • The word “Executive” is used 40% more in successful pitches, highlighting the importance of executive visibility.  
  • The word “Research” is used 44.8% more in successful pitches, emphasizing the impact of primary research when pitching new stories.  

What’s in Store for 2024 

Some of 2023’s top trends — layoffs at major media outlets, journalists leaving X and newsrooms unionizing or negotiating better contracts — will hold steady into 2024. We also expect to see new media outlets launched by veteran reporters, an escalation of the debate over the ethics of AI and continued discussions around compensation for reporters and editors. 

As we move further into 2024, communications professionals looking to secure earned media placements for their clients must be aware of the hurdles facing journalists and actively seek out ways to make their lives easier. 

Keeping broader political and economic events in mind, with specific regard to how they may be impacting reporters’ jobs, will be increasingly important. Taking the time to consider sensitivities related to geopolitical conflict, unionization efforts and industry layoffs could make all the difference in forming a mutually beneficial relationship with a reporter. 

To learn more about supporting the work journalists do as a marketing communications professional, read this Bliss Blog next: Building Meaningful Media Relationships

By Bill Smith and Ananya Vijay