What’s the Pitch? PR Report: Propel Media Barometer
The Perfect Pitch
PR Pioneer took a look at a data analysis comprising over 1 million pitches in order to give better insight into what kind of pitching strategies are most effective when it comes to outreach. The latest media barometer by Propel aims to do just that: breaking down the framework of a perfect pitch to gain better insight into the best strategies.
Propel is a PR tool that helps discover, pitch, monitor and analyzed earned media –in the form of one tool. Propel allows you to find the correct targets to pitch; and pitch them easily and effectively from your own inbox. The tool also allows users to measure performance and ROI of earned media campaigns.
Breakdown of Propel Media Barometer
Propel’s Media Barometer is a quarterly benchmarking study of all PR pitches sent out via the platform. The study is designed to help boost media relations practice, providing data to help support earned media outreach and drive better results. Propel analyzed a sample of almost 400,000 real-life pitches from 2022 in order to determine what factors make up the ‘perfect’ pitch today. It broke down things like:
- Subject line – how long should it be?
- Emoji use – yes or no?
- Pitching times – are there certain days of the week that have improved response rates?
As PR professionals, it’s important to share stories that are relevant to, and resonate with, media contacts. Propel found that the average journalist open rate to PR pitches was 36%, which means that out of 100 pitches received in their inbox, they might have opened around 1 in 3 of them. Many media outlets make use of email filtering technology to help screen messages and detect spam. Some of these tools can trigger an ‘open’ response without any actual opening from journalist.
Propel’s analysis of the first quarter of 2022 also found that of 100 pitches journalists received, they only responded to around 3 of them: an average response rate of 3.37%. This was a slight decrease from the 2021 rate, which was 3.53%.
First Impressions: The Subject Line
The barometer found that the subject lines with the most engagement among journalists were between 1 and 5 words in length. These pitches had the highest average journalist response rate: 5.59%.
The subject lines with the lowest engagement rate were those with 16+ words: 1.87%.
And, although many (just over 46% of) PR professionals keep most subject lines between 10 and 15 words in length, these pitches had one of the lowest average response rates: 2.62%.
In Q1 of 2022, the three most often-pitched topics were:
- Business & Industrial
- Tech & Computing
- Art & Entertainment.
These topics also had the highest average journalist response rates across the full range of topics, which included (along with their response rates):
- Business & Industrial: 3.47%
- Tech & Computing: 3.24%
- Art & Entertainment: 3.32%
- Health: 1.97%
- Society: 2.48%
- Finance: 2.99%
- Food & Drink: 2.81%
- Education: 1.57%
- Family & Parenting: 1.74%
- Law, Govt. & Politics: 1.65%
Email Pitches: The Body
Emojis – yes or no?
In terms of emoji use, PR professionals used emojis in about 1% of their pitch leads.
In line with this, Propel discovered that journalists had a slightly higher response rate to pitches without emojis (2.82%) in the lead, as compared to those with emojis (2.76%).
Pitch Lead: How long should it be?
The lead of a pitch is the first sentence and/or first part of text in the email body.
Those pitch leads between 50 to 79 words-long had the highest average journalist response rate (4.16%). Those ranging from 150 words or more had the lowest engagement rate (0.61%).
In the first quarter of 2022, the average lead length sent out by PR professionals was between 30 to 49 words.
Pitch Body: How long should it be?
The pitch body includes all the email text itself, as well as the lead. It only excludes the email subject line.
Stick to the basics. Journalists had the highest response rate to pitches between 50 and 149 words in length: 7.85%.
Comparatively, those pitches which had the lowest response rate were the longest (1000+) in word length: 1.46%.
4+ was the average number of embedded links in pitches sent out in the first quarter of 2022 – nearly 64% of total pitches included at least four of these embedded links.
However, the average journalist response rate to these pitches was only 2.69%.
Pitches with 2-3 embedded links had the highest average journalist response rate: 3.55%…
However, on average, only 20% of pitches fell within this range of number of embedded links.
Finally, pitches without any embedded links had the lowest average response rate from journalists: 1.55%.
Sending Pitches: What days and times are best?
Many may think mid-week is the best time to pitch to journalists, however, Propel found that Friday was the day that saw the highest journalist engagement rates (relative to pitch volume). Friday received an average response rate of 12%, which was relative to the percentage of pitches sent out on this day (8.5%) as compared to other days of the week.
On average, the highest volume of pitches was sent out on a Wednesday (24.8%), with the highest journalist response rate (23.3%).
How long does it take a journalist to open a pitch email?
Most pitches are opened by journalists within the first 10 minutes of landing in their inbox. And on average, journalists open nearly 80% of pitches on the same day they receive the email.
The Perfect Pitch?
When it comes to constructing the ‘perfect pitch email’, these components can be summed up:
- Pitches with leads between 50 and 79 words in length had the highest response rate.
- Pitches did didn’t contain any emojis received a slightly higher response rate from journalists, as compared to those that did contain emojis.
- Pitch bodies with a length of 50 to 149 words received the most responses.
- Those with 2 to 3 embedded links in the body did the best in terms of journalist engagement.
Finally, the perfect pitch of the first quarter of 2022 was sent on a Wednesday!
One size does not fit all
Of course, there are endless situational factors to consider when developing story pitches and not every pitch is the same. This barometer is simply an analysis of factors that have and haven’t worked, according to statistics that were compiled from data.
By analyzing these factors from previous pitches sent in recent months this year, Propel’s Media Barometer hopes to help improve results in the future.
For more advice like ‘What’s the Pitch? PR Report: Propel Media Barometer’ from the PR Pioneer team, check out our Industry News page.