A recent study by Propel, a public relations management software that brings data-driven analytics to PR, found that less than 8% of PR pitches actually get coverage.
That number might surprise many outsiders in the field, but career professionals in public relations might consider it business as usual. While the earned media rate is higher, journalists tell us that they receive about 100 pitches for every story they produce.
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Yes, public relations is a numbers game, and you have to be actively pitching if you’re going to get your name out there. Otherwise, if a consumer has never heard of you, how will they know to do business with you?
Propel, which is touted as a means to make the PR process smarter, allows professionals to assess their success in terms of several metrics, such as pitch open rates and positive response rates. These metrics help inform the pitching process, allowing people to see what works and what doesn’t. The results are almost astonishing; it even tells you the ideal time to send in a pitch (before 11 a.m.).
And yet, there’s one critical flaw in taking the numbers you’re seeing at face value: Propel’s statistics are informed exclusively by what happens on the platform. So 8% of pitches published through Propel make it to print, not 8% of all PR pitches for earned media coverage.
Furthermore, Propel is a relatively new media relations platform launched in 2019. Its current clientele consists of just over 100 clients, including Google and other organizations. While these companies might enjoy an 8% success rate, the actual pitch-to-press percentage is likely much lower.
Nevertheless, these insights shed light on aspects of PR that couldn’t previously be examined easily. Now, we can know that the majority of pitches are sent around 9 a.m., for example, or that they’re read between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
As the platform grows and takes on more clients, these figures will evolve to better capture and inform public relations. Perhaps with those insights, we’ll be able to see one, or maybe even two, in 10 pitches hit the mark.
Until then, we should keep doing our best to come up with better strategies the old fashioned way:
- Build relationships with your target news contacts and influencers
- Mass blasting your news to uninterested and irrelevant contacts is never a good idea
- When it comes to pitching the news media and other communications, focus on the audience
- Helping them, not selling them
- When you follow up, bring new insights and value to the relationship
- Ask yourself, “Who cares and why should they?”
- Keep editing until your message is clear, concise, and compelling