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Minisode: Muck Rack 2023 State of PR Recap – Podcast Transcript
Welcome to the pitching and sipping podcast, where we talk PR trends and tips over sips and meet a wide range of incredible founders, PR pros and members of the media. I’m Lexie Smith, a former workaholic VP of PR and marketing turned to time entrepreneur, founder of the PR ink business, NPR coach, new mama and self proclaimed connoisseur of puns, pizza and wine. I’m a huge believer that knowledge is power. And kindness never goes out of style. Think of the show as a way to uplevel your business and career over happy hour. Now let’s get to pitching and sipping. Hi, guys, it’s Lex. And it’s many sewed time. So today, I’m going to be going over some cliff notes of the Muckrock. state of pr 2023. Now, I highly encourage you to download the actual PDF, book cracks team, I’m sure but a lot of work into this. And there’s a ton more details that I’m going to be going into today. But if you’re someone who likes quick clip notes, take aways, this episode is for you. So also plug for the YouTube channel, because I’m going to be sharing my screen as we go through some of this today. So let me get all techie for those watching. And I’m going to share Okay, so about this survey, MK rack interviewed more than 1000 PR professionals from March through April of 2023 of this year. Now 55% of them were in agencies, we also had 23% in house and they had a selection of others from nonprofits, consultants and governments. Okay, so the executive summary. So this is what Muckrock felt to be. As the top takeaways from this survey. 70% of PR pros expect earned media to become more difficult to secure over the next five years, I fall within that 70% Because I’ve experienced it firsthand and is getting so much more challenging. And I’m sure we’ll dive into this a little bit more when we discover or review why throughout this report. LinkedIn is now the top social network for communications strategies after increasing more than 10% Compared to last year, displacing Twitter now interesting because if you look at the state of journalism reports, journalists are still saying that Twitter is their preferred social media platform. So I don’t have a ton of color on this step up front. But I’m curious if PR pros are saying they’re using LinkedIn as a way to connect with the public rather than just members of the media. So we’ll see interesting to see that one. Lack of diversity, more than half of PR pros say there’s little to no diversity on their leadership teams. So we need to do better here. AI is one of the top five skills PR pros say their companies will need to focus on to be successful in the future. I do believe it’s something we can’t ignore. It’s a little scary. I don’t entirely know what’s going to happen. But I do think it’s unavoidable. It’s something that I mean, quite literally, we’ve done full episodes on the show about it has been one of the reasons behind mass layoffs. In the media industry at large. 44% of PR pros say they’re sending or spending more time on internal comms, so sending messages within the company. Okay, so section one, how PR pros work, their challenges and priorities. So I like this section because I feel like it makes some of us feel a little less alone and like we’re not crazy and that we’re all in this together. What was the top concern for PR pros? What was their number one challenge 53 said getting a response from journalists. It’s hard, okay. 48% said having enough resources, like budget or people. Third place was justifying or showcasing the PR team value to stakeholders. And then a fourth place was managing stakeholder expectations. So let’s pause for a second. Number one getting responses from journalists. Now I’m going to editorialize a little bit here. This isn’t in the actual report. But what we’ve really really seen especially over the last year is the volume of journalists has decreased, especially the volume of in house journalists. Now on the flip side, I have seen an increase in freelance journalists. But when there’s less journalists, and the same amount or maybe even more PR folks. And obviously, there’s even more crowded inboxes. So I’m not surprised to hear that this is the number one challenge. It just reaffirms how important it is to slow down research and customize pitches and to build relationships. Right now having enough resources. This is something this is a problem that I feel like has existed from the beginning of time, right. And I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. And justifying, justifying or showcasing PR team value. One of the lines I use over and over again, in coaching, especially when I’m coaching someone in PR is PR has bad PR, ironically, right? Some people get it, some people don’t. So I definitely understand why this is a top rated challenge. Okay, so which of these functions constitutes at least 25% of your job? Select up to four. So which of these items do you spend your time doing? Number one media relations 85% voted that was at least a quarter of their day, thought leadership 51%. This has been a big, big increase or trend in the last years, he function of our role. Number three, media measurement and reporting 47%. So I also would expect this number to fluctuate based on if someone has software helping them out or if they’re going to DIY route. And then number four, corporate communications, number five events and activations and it goes down there again, plug to get the full report. No, Muckrock doesn’t sponsor this quite yet. But it’s really, really interesting to see how our fellow peers are spending their time. Okay, in your opinion, how much diversity does your workplace have? Unfortunately, only 9% voted that there is a great deal of diversity. The most common response that 36% said moderate 6% said, not any diversity at all, which is a problem. But yeah, I’d like to see these numbers go up next year for sure. We already talked about leadership and diversity. Okay, so this is a big one that’s close to my heart. How much did you work so quick backstory, if you haven’t heard my backstory, there’s an episode on it, feel free to find it. I’ve also been interviewed on other podcasts. But one of the main reasons I transitioned into entrepreneurship was to really gain control of my own work life balance. I’m a big, big, big fan cheerleader for the concept of working to live not living to work. So that being said, how much did people work this includes meeting outreach, writing, and responding to messages planning and researching 25 to 40 hours 41% To 25 to 40 hours, which I think is a huge win, because that is a healthy amount of work. Right now. 41 to 50 hours, which would be working overtime is at 51%. I’d love to see this number go down next year, and we have more people in that 25 to 40 hour category. For the 6% out there who are working more than 51 hours. Be careful. Please remember you have one life take care of yourself. Okay, let’s look at how valued PR pros feel. So 59% of employees at agencies say they feel very valued. While at Brands only 25% said the same thing. Now personally, what I think again, editorializing here. Why I think this is is because when you’re working in house, and I’ve worked in agencies and in house, not everyone understands PR, right? I remember when I worked at a telecommunications company, if I were to walk over to the IT side of the building, I’m sure these people thought I just was the gal that maybe like showed up at events and posted on social media, they truly didn’t understand everything that my role entailed, because we just didn’t speak the same language. So I’m not surprised to see this. Whereas if you’re an in an agency and agency specifically to that selling PR services, that as long as you’re doing a good job, I would hope they would value you. Producing measurable results is the best way to increase PRs value to stakeholders. This was a stat highlighting the key takeaways again, I’m not surprised. People are hiring us for results.
My organization’s PR is managed by only an in house PR team number 150 1% said only and house 37% said an in house team an agent See, and I think this is the absolute best case scenario, if you have a team in house internal champions, and then you extend that outside with an agency, this is my favorite way to work. And then 11% PR is rolled into other functions, I get it when you’re scrappy, small business, and then only a PR comms agency was only 1%. So really, really interesting to see that the majority of brands who care value or focus on PR, also have an in house team, not a lot are just working with an agency. Something something to note. Okay. How do you work with agencies? Okay, well, then when we do that, all right. So how do you work with industries, rams are evenly split between using one or multiple agencies 44% said we only work with a single agency 43%. They said work on an ongoing basis with multiple agencies. I mean, that’s neck and neck right only 1% of difference. My agency, the PR agency is very, very, very pro collaboration. I think collaboration is a very key part of PR. That being said, collaboration only works when the other parties also collaborate. Right? So basically, I am all for working with multiple agencies, as long as there’s open dialogue and true collaboration. So we aren’t, you know, both emailing the same reporter, for example, that’s when when things can get a little, a little dirty. But if one agency is an expert in influencer marketing, and another agency has really, really great, maybe local press, and another is really, really great at event activations. Why not bring them all in if there’s budget, the more the merrier is my opinion. Brands rely on agencies for an average of about four types of work. Number one, pitching 84% 79% research and building media lists, which we all know if you’re in PR, this is incredibly time consuming. Third place 69% project based work. So that’s like a product launch something that’s very, very timely. And then 41% events. I don’t know why. But people get really surprised when I tell them that I also do events when events is such such a key part of PR. So I’m personally happy to to hear at least well, 41%, it’s less than half. But let’s get that up a little bit. I hope I hope brands know that PR can help in that in that category. Okay, they also asked in the survey, which type of work would you be unlikely to outsource to PR agency, which is really interesting. 73% of brands said internal comms or counsel. And then second place was speech writing. Third place was social media. Then it goes down. Alright, section two tech and tools. I am going to scroll down to talk a little bit about AI because that is obviously a hot topic and trending. So about 61% of PR pros say they currently use generative AI or plan to explore it. Holy crap. That’s a lot. Right. And I think that’s smart. I think it’s, it’s now it’s happening, it’s not going away. So why not learn about it, learn to use it, learn how we can work with it. So 61% is a healthy number. But we got a ways to go. Now I want I want to caveat that with I’m not saying that AI will replace us. But I’m thinking that there is a way that it can really help us do our jobs. Okay, I’m going to go to section three connecting with journalists. The question asked was, which of the following components do you believe is the most important in securing coverage with pitch? First place 33% subject relevant to the journalist, then tied for second place was previous relationship or customization. So these metrics remain pretty standard, year after year. That being said, I highly suggest you listen to the global comms and journalism reports on this shows you can hear how the journalists weigh in I always find it interesting to see what what journalists think versus what PRs think. And one of the things that’s not on here, or I don’t think ranks highly enough for the PR pros, since it ranks so high for journalists is timeliness. Okay, so if you’re going to learn something from the show, learn that. Twitter loses its appeal as a pitching channel according to PR pros. So number one is still email which is the same for journalists Number two is Twitter, which is also tied with mass email case, please don’t send mass emails, please don’t do that. And then number four, I guess number three, LinkedIn and phone 99% of every single journalist I’ve ever spoken to does not want to be pitched on the phone. So again, this isn’t telling you what you should do. This is just a report asking other PR professionals what they’re doing. All right, so how are PR pros, finding contacts 83% are using a media database and Muckrock gives them so as an example of see what you did there 59% In Google searching 50% personal and then 48% social media. You my team uses mcerts competitor, a little bit cision. We do a ton of our own Google research or searching on actual outlets. So we do a ton of more kind of DIY strategies. How to pitch 53% prefer to pitch on Tuesday. So 53% of your peers, if you are listening to this are pitching on Tuesday. So you can either ride that wave because maybe that’s successful, or if you want to stand out don’t pitch on Tuesday. 81% prefer to pitch before noon. I second that 90% prefer to pitch via one on one emails, again, a second that 92% keep their pitches under 300 words, which is advised according to journalist states of the journalism state of state of journalism report. And 42% Say one follow up is okay. 42% say two, I usually do one unless it’s really, really great, then I’ll do two. Okay, social media usage. We kind of talked about where other PR pros are hanging out. They highlighted that in the the key findings executive summary, what I think is more interesting is where journalists are hanging out. And guys, journalists are still hanging out on Twitter. Some summer on Instagram, too. That’s what I’ve seen. But the majority on LinkedIn, at least that I’ve talked to, unless there’s something in their bio, or on their profile that says they’re open to being pitched on that platform, they tend to use LinkedIn to further their career. Again, that is just based on the feedback I have received. So take that with a grain of salt. Okay, budget salaries and more. Who is your company’s decision maker for spending on PR 38% says CEO, and then it goes down from there. But we do have VPS directors of PR and comms, I mean, how it worked for me when I was a VP of PR is I still had to have budgets approved by my CEO. I guess it also depends on size of company 100%. Okay, let’s see. most useful metrics to measure in PR, number one, numbers of story placed number to reach or impressions, three, the key message pull through or for what fact, reach and impressions. I think it’s a nice vanity metric, especially to provide to clients. But I’m way more into what what actually happened. So I would put website impact, for example, dependent on a client’s goals higher than a given reach or impression because that’s showing me what actually happened, but again, editorializing here. The future of PR. So this is the last section we’re going to go into today, we’re going to talk about PR and marketing. So PR is relationship with marketing will be what, in the next five years, happy to see 71% said more important. Only 4% said less. So I’m glad to see that. Only 4% Don’t agree and then 26% It’s said it’s going to be just as important. So to me, I’m in that more category. I think PR and marketing are natural BFFs I think they’re forever integrating and so it’s worth becoming knowledgeable on both sides of the coin or at least being open to work getting working with those in the marketing field. And then AI burst the top five skills companies need to focus on in the next five years, which is crazy, in my opinion. Well, it’s not that crazy. It’s
just robots are here. Okay, guys, so that is all I’m gonna go into today. Again, link in the show notes. If you want to download the full report. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Some of my biggest takeaways, again, I have this I’m closely watching AI I think it’s something we can’t and we shouldn’t ignore. I also was not surprised but validating that it felt validated and hearing that the biggest challenge for the PR industry is receiving responses which makes sense to me considering of how the newsroom is shrinking, and that it continues to be hard to justify the value of PR to outside stakeholders. I’d love to know your top takeaways. Always here to have a conversation. You can message me on Instagram at the PR underscore Inc I probably hang out there the most or feel free to slide into my inbox. Let me know if you find these cliff note episodes helpful. And until next time on the pigeon and sipping podcast. Cheers Hey guys, if you are enjoying the pitching and sipping podcast, please do me a huge favor and leave a review wherever you are listening. If you want to connect with me to learn more about the PR bar Inc. You can do so on Instagram Act, the PR bar underscore inc or you can check out my website at the PR bar inc.com Cheers