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Smaller pitch lists drive significantly higher journalist engagement

By Lindsey Chastain

Targeting only 1-50 recipients per pitch can maximize your open and clickthrough rates.


A person working on a pitch list.When it comes to media pitching, many PR pros wonder how many journalists they should email to get maximal engagement with their pitch. New data from an analysis of over 14 million pitches provides a clear answer: Pitching to a highly targeted list of 1-50 journalists yields significantly higher open and clickthrough rates than pitching to larger groups does.



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The numbers tell a compelling story:

  • Pitches sent to just one recipient had an average open rate of 65% and clickthrough rate of 8.5%.
  • Pitches sent to 2-9 recipients had an average 55% open rate and 6% clickthrough rate. 
  • Pitches to 10-49 people had an average 47% open rate and 4% clickthrough rate.
  • For pitches sent to 50-99 journalists, the average open rate dropped to 43%, and the clickthrough rate fell to 3%.
  • Pitches blasted to 100-199 recipients had only an average 41% open rate and 2.5% clickthrough rate.
  • The rates continued to decline from there, with pitches to 200-499 contacts having an average 38% open rate and 2% clickthrough rate. Mass pitches to over 500 journalists averaged a 37% open rate and a minuscule 1.5% clickthrough rate.

The implications for PR professionals are clear — carefully curating a highly focused pitch list drives greater journalist engagement. A pitch sent to an individual reporter is opened almost twice as frequently and receives 5.6 times as many clicks as one sent to a list of over 500 contacts.


Intuitively, this makes sense. Journalists are busy and receive a huge volume of pitches daily. The odds of them opening and clicking through an email blasted to hundreds of other reporters are slim. But a pitch crafted just for them and a handful of other highly relevant contacts has a much better shot at capturing their attention. 


As the data shows, hyper-targeting your outreach to lists of under 50 contacts, with a focus on individualized pitches whenever possible, is the surest way to get journalists to actually read and engage with your story ideas. Switching from pitching to 100 people to pitching to just one yields a more than one-third increase in open rate and almost triples the clickthrough rate.


Consider the value of specializing pitches.

Does it take more work to specialize a pitch and pitch list than blasting a one-size-fits-all email to a giant media list? Of course. You need to thoroughly research each journalist, familiarize yourself with their work, and carefully consider if your pitch is a great fit for their beat and audience. Then, you need to customize the angle and details for their specific readership.


But the data proves that this approach is well worth the investment to boost the results that matter most — earning journalists' attention and getting them to respond to your ideas. Blasting impersonal pitches to huge lists only serves to train reporters to ignore PR pros' outreach.


Top media relations professionals recognize that a "more the merrier" philosophy with pitch lists is misguided. The most successful pitches today require researching individual journalists, carefully selecting only the most relevant contacts, and sending them tailored, targeted story ideas and angles.  


Next time you're building a media list, challenge yourself to keep it as small and focused as possible. Based on over 14 million data points, pitching just 1-50 hyper-targeted contacts is the best way to earn the opens, clicks, and responses that lead to earned media wins. Quality tops quantity when it comes to maximizing journalist engagement.

For more information about media relations, download our “Learn Media Relations from The Media” e-book for additional tips on interacting and connecting with journalists and PR professionals.


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Photo by picjumbo.com

Topics: media relations, earned media, news media

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