Propel Media Barometer Report

Category: Agency News

By: Rich Leigh

Public relations professionals have, for at least the last two decades, pondered what the best pitching strategy is, and like the news this is subject to change quickly depending on what’s going on in the world. 

For example, the last 18 months have changed the way we live drastically, with many of us, including journalists, continuing to work remotely. This has had a knock on effect, and I’m sure many PR agencies will agree that what was working in 2019, seems to be less effective in 2021 – good job we’re an adaptable bunch!

So, you can imagine our joy when Propel released its 2021 pitching insights research. “Hurrah!” we all collectively cheered, finally we have some actual data to steer our campaign outreach. I jest, a lot of it we already knew, BUT that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly useful to have the evidence. 

Here’s a summary of the findings, based on over one million pitches (full report here): 

  • Journalists open the most pitches at 11am, so the takeaway for PRs is to get their pitches out around this time, 10 – 11am to be precise, rather than as soon as journalists get to their desk, which has traditionally been 9am. Maybe unsurprisingly, most pitches are opened during the first half of the day, before 1 p.m. 
  • More than a third (35%) of pitches are opened within the first minute. And after 10 minutes, the majority of opens have already happened (52.45%), with this number increasing to 82% after the first four hours. So if you haven’t received an ‘open’ by then, it’s very unlikely you will, and you’re better off following up with another email. 
  • Journalists respond to roughly 3.27% of pitches they receive, which equates to responding to one out of every 31 pitches they get. The odds are NOT stacked in PRs’ favour in this respect, but it does emphasise the importance of personalising your pitch. 
  • In terms of response rates and topic, ‘Business & Industrial’ gets the most engagement, followed by ‘Society’ and ‘Art & Entertainment’. When the data looks at open rates and topic, ‘Art & Entertainment’ takes the crown, followed by ‘Business & Industrial’ and ‘Finance’. 
  • Journalists shift their focus onto topics that reflect what’s going on in the world, which is ever evolving. To shed some light on this, Propel looked into topic coverage and pitching data (July 2020 – 2021) and found that: 
    • “Tech & Computing” pitches have increased (now ranked no. 1 instead of no. 3)
    • “Family & Parenting” pitches have increased (moved up two spots in the top 10). 
    • A slight decline in “Business & Industrial” pitches (now ranked no. 2 instead of no. 1). 
    • A slight decline in “Education” and “Food & Drink” pitches (now rank below “Family & Parenting.” 

We think everyone will agree that the above ‘topic shifts’ make sense, when you consider the move to remote working, home-schooling and the temporary shut down of the hospitality sector from 2020 to 2021. This further highlights how important it is to pitch topics that are relevant to what is happening in society.