Hurling PR Pitches: It's Getting Harder To Land Stories Due To Layoffs

PR people are having a harder time scoring high-quality press coverage, no surprise given that Q1 of 2024 was one of the worst quarters for journalist layoffs since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the Q2 2024 Propel Media Barometer.

Despite that, response metrics are improving, although they don’t necessarily lead to stories being published.

The 405,000 pitches analyzed in Q1 drew an average 3.43% response rate, an 8.89% increase from the prior quarter and the highest ever seen by Propel Media. Response rates had fallen under 3% in 2022.

Response rates are described as anything from “No thanks” to “I’ll take the story.”

But Propel notes that PR professionals are sending fewer, more targeted messages, which could account for some of the improvement.

The average open rate held steady at 46%, although email experts recommend relying more on the click or click-to-open rate.



As for timing, journalists responded to 50.29% of pitches within the first hour. 

There was a slight increase in the number of pitches being opened in the first hour compared to previous quarters, with 50.29% of pitches being responded to in this timeframe. 

But there was a 4.33% increase in the amount of pitches opened within 30 minutes. Propel calls this “the highest increase in any of the tranches of pitch opens.”

Moreover, nearly 65% of pitches are responded to in the same day they are sent, Still, this metric fell by 2.39% from the previous quarter. And there was a 7.1% decrease in the number of responses coming within 30 minutes. 

Of the pitches sent, 17.83% are opened within a minute and 75.37% in the same day. 

Propel advises senders to keep their subject lines short: those with one to five words drew a 4.73% response rate, although 36.54% of all the pitches sent had subject lengths of 10-15 words. And body lengths of 51-150 words drew the highest response: 7.51%. 

On the bad news side, 4,300 pitches mentioned the Super Bowl, but only 0.58% received a response. 

Pitches to podcasters resulted in a 23.35% lower response than in Q4 2023, while influencers responded at a 34.19% higher rate than before, the study says. 

Because of the layoffs and lack of resources, the time it takes to get a story published increased in Q1 2024, although 68.31% come out within three days of the pitch being sent. The busiest day for PR people is Tuesday, but journalists respond the most on Thursday.  



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