For Cision’s 11th 2020 State of the Media Report, more than 3,200 journalists from 15 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia were surveyed. Additionally, once COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, Cision reached back out to journalists to see how it was affecting them. The 114 responses are highlighted in a special section.
Here are the top takeaways to get you started.
1. COVID-19 changed everything, but also highlighted everything that hasn’t changed for the media.
Journalists still prefer to be pitched via email, and the volume of pitches they’re receiving now — paired with increasingly tight budgets and reduced resources — only emphasized that.
Make sure to research a journalist’s work before sending a pitch, particularly as entire staffs have been shifted to cover the pandemic.
2. Distrust in the media continues to decrease in the eyes of journalists, but there is still work to be done on this front.
For the fourth year in a row, journalists said they saw distrust in the media decreasing. Trust, once lost, is difficult to rebuild, but the public is turning to mainstream media as one of the first places to get news on the novel coronavirus, per the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on Trust and the Coronavirus.
While that same report showed that trust was higher in employers than the media, turning to the media as a first choice for updates on the virus is a sign that things are moving in a positive direction. The full report discusses this more in-depth.
3. Bias is unavoidable in humans and journalists are humans; the report examines this relationship between bias and reporters (and what it means for PR pros).
As journalists grapple with bias in their industry and in their own work, the report discusses how PR and communications professionals can address this difficult topic. It shares responses on bias in journalists’ own words, including this one, which sums things up pretty well:
“All media is biased because it’s run by humans.”
The report also examines the relationship between bias and technology, especially when it comes to social media algorithms.
4. Social media continues to be complicated; the heady promise of AI continues to fade.
In 2019, 38% of journalists agreed that social media algorithms would have the greatest impact on the way they work. In 2020, 41% of journalists believe this to be the case.
That puts journalists in the difficult position of balancing two competing priorities: Accuracy in their reporting vs. the speed valued by social media algorithms.
Meanwhile, only 15% see AI/machine learning as the most important technology to impact the industry, down from 19% in 2019. The promises of AI continue to fade.
5. PR outreach needs to be more targeted and relevant than ever before to stand out.
If you take nothing else away from Cision’s 2020 State of the Media Report as a PR professional, journalists hope that it’s this: Sending a mass email out to a list won’t get you the kind of coverage you want for your brand.
Pitches need to be well-researched and personalized. They should be concise but contain everything a journalist needs to craft the story, and follow-up should be limited.