The barrier to entry for media relations is pretty low: All you really need is an email address, or perhaps social media profiles, to engage reporters at top-tier organizations.
However, the likelihood that your email gets a cursory glance is low. That’s why the real value media relations professionals bring to the table is relationships—and why you should listen to journalists when they tell you not to pitch bad ideas.
In new data from Propel, the number crunchers broke down over 1 million pitches that users of its software sent to journalists to try and understand the media pitching equation: What times of day are the best to send a pitch? How often does an email pitch result in a story being covered?
The answer? Not very often.
Only 8% of the pitches analyzed resulted in coverage:
And in many cases, the pitch isn’t even getting read, disappearing behind a mountain of other emails in a journo’s inbox. Of more than 726,000 emails sent, only 29% were opened and only 3% got a response.
Should this data depress the intrepid PR pro? On the contrary, the data is incontrovertible truth of the real value a PR veteran with a media list and relationships with reporters brings to the process. For brands or startups who are pondering a DIY, the data is a cautionary tale.
Does the data suggest the best times of day to send your PR pitch? Between 9 and 11 a.m. is the busiest pitching time of the day. PR pros could take this data as evidence that they should send their pitches during less crowded times, but there might also be a reason that the hours of 9-11 a.m. are so popular. A good PR pro will take the time to understand when a particular journalist wants to receive pitches and carefully target their outreach to the appropriate times.
And how will you know if your pitch has slipped through the cracks—or been passed up for more newsworthy fare? If you haven’t heard back in four hours, the data suggests you are unlikely to hear back at all.
“About 82% of opens happen within the first four hours of the pitch being sent,” Propel writes in the report. “If you have not received an open by then, it is unlikely that you will receive an open at all. Rather than hope for an open if one or more days have passed since you sent the pitch, it makes more sense to either move on or follow-up.”
But a word of caution about following up with reporters: Don’t overdo it.