2022 Media Relations Predictions: 4 Trends to Watch

By Sherri Kirk
December 15, 2021

Just when you thought the worst of the worst was behind us, signs pointing to a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic resurfaced, forcing a perpetual period of rapid adjustment. In addition, a change in administration, racial injustice, vaccination debates, healthcare costs pushing billions into poverty – to name a few – are critical issues making it extremely difficult to penetrate a journalist’s inbox, right now.

Although the future of our industry is uncertain and presents many risks building upon challenges already faced in 2021, there is also an opportunity in 2022 to reset by adapting a balance of innovation and getting back to basics.

1. Get comfortable navigating a virtual world that’s here to stay.

To say change and instability of 2021 will have a ripple effect in 2022 would be an understatement. Necessity driving new ways of living and overturning traditional norms, hybrid working schedules and flexible hours will continue to demand the reliance on virtual worlds.

  • Virtual interactions and video interviews between journalists and subject matter experts boomed this past year, and 2022 should prove to be more of the same. The use of Zoom and Microsoft Teams will continue to be acceptable, efficient and effective ways of connecting.

  • The number of online visitors to news sites is projected for growth as the demand for digital information increases.

  • Engagement across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tik Tok will prevail as powerful sources for content distribution and sharing.

  • Despite waning participation in traditional forms of media, an online news story will continue to have viral legs. This translates into maximizing opportunities for greater coverage, especially with repurposing and sharing content via social and digital media channels.

2. Stick to the basics when pitching during the prolonged pandemic.

Without a doubt, staffing issues continue to dominate the news industry. You may have an amazing story to tell, but the outlet just might not have adequate resources to pick it up. Compounding the matter, PR pros say journalists at national media outlets receive – on average – somewhere between 80 and 300 emails every day. So, do your homework and bring your ‘A’ game with every pitch!

  • The point of the pitch is to get the reporter, writer or producer to engage in dialogue, so you must show value and preview your pitch in the subject line. Statistics show 85% of journalists open an email based on the subject line alone, making it THE most important part of a pitch. It should answer Who? What? When? Why? and How? and should also include any available assets.

  • Read the bylines, know who you are pitching, what they are passionate about and personalize your pitch. Research and review your target’s recent work to get a better understanding of what an exceptional and impactful story looks like to them, then ask yourself, “Is your story angle relevant to this particular journalist?”

3. Give journalists what they need – and don’t give up.

Do not throw the whole kitchen sink at a reporter – a shorter pitch is better. Position key messages with clarity and simplicity within your pitch – the right words can create impact and inspire action. Utilize brevity so they are compelled to lift key words directly from your messaging.

  • Include the basics in your pitch – timeliness, differentiators and an interesting hook. Make it perfectly clear all the elements are readily available to make it extremely easy for them to cover your story. When the journalist responds, provide them with video, b-roll, expert soundbites, photos and insightful expert quotes. If you have data – prove it! Support the claim in your pitch with facts, figures, statistics, studies, etc.

  • If you do not receive a response right away – do not panic. Remember, newsrooms are dwindling in numbers and the journalist is likely buried in emails, on assignment or covering breaking news. Conduct follow up in a couple of days, specifying the purpose in your headline – most will appreciate the diligence. If your story is distinctive yet timing is not on your side, sometimes journalists will file your pitch for future coverage.

  • If all else fails, do it the old school way – pick up the phone and give them a quick call. They will tell you if they are not interested, do not have time, plan to circle back or if they would like to chat more about your story angle.

4. Never underestimate the value of building strong media relationships.

You have already demonstrated knowing your audience by pitching to a specific journalist. Whether or not they pick up your story – continue to review their work and engage with them on social, sharing their articles and segments and praising them publicly. Send them story tips, schedule a networking opportunity over a quick cup of coffee and offer beneficial introductions to others in your network. Whatever you do, do not stop communicating. Being a professional, patient, respectful and courteous PR pro will go a long way.

What else do you see impacting media outreach in 2022?

To see examples of how we’ve supported our clients with media relations strategy and outreach, view our case studies.