Propel Wrapped: Journalist Engagement H1 2023 Report Finds Connecting a PR Pitching Campaign to Current Events is Trickier than Ever
The data, which was taken from over 1 million PR pitches sent via the Propel platform, reveals the increasing difficulty of standing out in journalist inboxes and pitching unique, interesting story angles that add insight to what’s going on in the world
Tel Aviv, Israel— August 9th, 2023— Propel, the leading Public Relations Management (PRM) platform, has released the statistics of how the news was pitched in 2023 with its Wrapped: H1 2023 Journalist Engagement report. Looking at over 1 million PR pitches sent to journalists via the platform from January to July 2023, Propel found which topics were most likely to get a journalist’s attention and elicit a response. For example, pitches mentioning King Charles III’s coronation only received a 0.37% response rate, while pitches on quantum computing were responded to 18.58% of the time. The average response rate to PR pitches for the first half of 2023 was 2.95%.
The report looked into various events from 2023 including tech, social media, world events, celebrations, the economy, funding rounds, and climate & energy to see how likely a journalist was to cover a given topic.
Of course, the biggest news story in tech is how generative AI is changing our digital world. In everything from communications to coding, this technology is fundamentally changing the way people work and do business. In addition, it was also seen to be the single event buoying a teetering tech sector. This story was so huge that journalists wanted any story they could get on it, with the topic garnering an 11.57% response rate.
The business of social media has been turbulent to say the least, with Twitter eliminating blue checkmarks, a growing number of countries and US states banning TikTok, and Meta moving away from the Metaverse. Unfortunately, pitches mentioning these big social media companies didn’t receive much traction, with pitches mentioning Twitter being responded to 1.19% of the time, those mentioning TikTok having a response rate of 1.5%, and those mentioning Meta only being responded to 1.19% of the time.
However, there was a large uptick in the amount PR professionals pitched influencers and podcasts, with these pitches receiving excellent results. In fact, pitches to influencers were responded to a whopping 27.41% of the time, while those to podcasters were responded to an impressive 17.29% of the time.
Politics and world events
There’s so much happening in geopolitics and world events that it was difficult to narrow down a few data-points to look at. Therefore, Propel decided to look at a few of the biggest stories of the first half of 2023, investigating whether Trump or Biden received more responses, and seeing if the negative concepts such as “war” are more popular among journalists than “peace.”
First, despite nearly the same amount of pitches mentioning Biden and Trump, pitches related to the former president received double the amount of attention as did those mentioning the current one. However, both of these topics received less than 1% response rates, with Joe Biden pitches being responded to 0.22% of the time and Donald Trump pitches being responded to 0.54% of the time.
Meanwhile, it appears bad news really does sell, with war beating out peace in the race to responses. Despite similar numbers of pitches, war related pitches received a 9.67% response rate while only 0.29% of peace loving pitches got any attention.
Ceremonies and Celebrations
From the SuperBowl to King Charles III’s coronation and from Cannes to Pride month, the beginning of 2023 saw a plethora of ceremonies and celebrations. And PR professionals used all of them in pitching hooks. But how well were they received by journalists?
Mostly, not very well. For instance, pitches about the SuperBowl, Eurovision, the coronation of Prince Charles III, the Oscars, and Juneteenth all received response rates of less than 1% despite these subjects being the events with the most mentions in pitches. This shows that journalists were inundated with these kinds of pitches, and that if a communications professional is pitching these subjects, then it has to be a unique angle.
A lot has happened in the world economy - from major banks in the US and Europe failing to mass tech and journalist layoffs to inflation hitting peaks around the world, it was an interesting start to the year for the world economic system.
Banks and banking related pitches received slightly lower response rates than average at 2.1%, but pitches about Silicon Valley Bank were responded to 5.08% of the time. Meanwhile, inflation and debt related pitches were responded to 2.22% and 1.24% of the time despite both having a nearly 50% open rate. Layoffs from around the economy also were opened 60% of the time, showing journalists’ interests in the stories, but were only responded to 2.55% of the time.
In a bit of good news however, journalists reacted well to pitches about growth, responding to 6.38% of pitches on this subject. This seems to show that if a journalist can find a piece of good news for the economy, they’re more likely to publish it.
Fun with Funding
Consistently, one of the best ways for a company to get media attention is through a funding announcement. Despite the initial slowdown in funding seen at the beginning of the year, the amount of money venture capital firms are investing into startups and other tech companies is slowly rising. This could explain what Propel has been seeing over the last few months.
For example, it was found that seed and pre-seed round pitches were responded to 5.62% of the time while those mentioning Series A rounds were responded to 11.92% of the time. It was also found that the two types of rounds with the highest journalist engagement were Series B rounds at 15.7% followed by Series C rounds at 13.14%.
Climate and Energy
With floods in India and the Northeastern US and heat waves across Latin America and Europe, the subjects of climate and energy have been in the news a lot as of late. We therefore decided to look into how these various news items were getting pitched.
It turns out in terms of weather, snow related pitches were the most interesting to journalists, with these being responded to 12.94% of the time. Meanwhile, fires only piqued journalist interest 1.42% of the time.
Meanwhile, pitches mentioning energy or climate only received 1.7% and 1.68% response rates respectively. Meanwhile, those mentioning power received rates of over 7%.
Finally, the ways we power our lives also proved to be interesting for journalists. In fact, wind power was the energy source receiving the highest amount of journalist engagement with a 4.68% response rate. Meanwhile, coal received the least amount of engagement at only 0.5%.
“For years, one of the most popular PR strategies is to find something going on in the news and tie it into a campaign,” said Zach Cutler, Co-Founder & CEO of Propel PRM. “However, after looking at the Propel H1 2023 Wrapped: Journalist Engagement numbers, it’s clear that this strategy isn’t working like it used to. In fact, it seemed as if the more popular the topic, the less likely it was to receive any engagement. It appears that journalists are inundated with the same kinds of pitches surrounding these events and get bored of them easily. Therefore, before hitching a pitch to something in the news, people in comms should ensure that they actually have an interesting, unique angle on the topic that will stand out from the crowd. By shifting tactics, coupled with increasing their use of data driven insights to understand when a campaign is working, people in comms can increase their organization’s reach and come up with ever more interesting and relevant stories for a journalist’s readers.”
Propel is the leader in Public Relations Management (PRM) technology and creator of Artificial Media Intelligence (AMI). Propel has over 500 customers, including Microsoft, Real Chemistry, M&C Saatchi, NPR, and other leading brands and agencies. Launched in 2019, Propel is headquartered in Tel Aviv and has teams based in New York, London and Miami. The company has raised $6 million in venture funding to date and is the fastest-growing PR technology in the world. For more information, visit www.propelmypr.com.