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What content do journalists want from PR people?

To help PROs secure coverage into 2020, a new study by PR tool BuzzStream analysed up to 200,000 articles in detail to uncover journalistic trends

The name on everybody’s lips

The analysis included the most written about topics, companies and people. Royal of the moment Meghan Markle was revealed as the most written about person in entertainment, with Elon Musk the most written about person in tech articles.

Unpacking the ‘best day to pitch’ myth

The average number of articles published per day by vertical was analysed to see whether any consensus could be reached on the best day to pitch. The results, however, don’t prove much conclusively, with Tuesday to Thursday coming out top across pretty much all sectors:

  • Tech – Tuesday
  • Travel – Thursday
  • Health – Wednesday
  • Entertainment – Thursday
  • Personal Finance – Friday

There wasn’t much in it for these weekdays though, for example with Friday having 18.6% of the personal finance articles published vs Tuesday with 18.3% and a similar pattern is seen across the other sectors.

The researchers spoke to various journalists and personal finance journalist Jasmine Birtles confirmed that the day an article is pitched wasn’t a huge concern for her: “We publish things daily – basically weekdays – and it really depends what we are working on, what we will use. However, if a press release comes that’s really interesting (to us), then we will get a writer to work on it asap.”

Best formats and language for pitches

When looking at the types of formats or assets that are being covered most frequently across the sectors, the research uncovered some interesting variations. The below table shows each sector seems to favour a different format, with visuals winning out in entertainment and travel vs more research-based campaigns for the others.

Words which suggest formats - Most popular by vertical

Alongside the most common formats, the research also looked at the  language used across the verticals, with all but travel favouring words
like ‘Reveal’ whereas travel’s most used word in headlines was tip or tips. This indicates that listicle content is still proving most popularwith travel writers.

Vernacular - Most popular by vertical

Journalists under pressure

The study also looked at how much pressure journalists in the different sectors were under by analysing the average number of articles published per day alongside the median word counts of these articles. Publishers in tech, health and entertainment are publishing almost twice as many articles per day (22) as those in travel (11) and personal finance (12). This is despite health articles having the highest median word count (652).

Explaining the motivation behind the study, Stephen Panico, chief growth officer at BuzzStream, says: "We’ve known for a long time that the best performing teams get outstanding results by tailoring their pitches and content to the journalists they want coverage from. However, it’s always been frustrating for people who hear this advice because it’s always seemed to be more of an art than a science, something that a team either has or they don’t. We wanted to go beyond anecdotal evidence and platitudes and figure out exactly what the data actually says about what works and what doesn’t – based on what’s actually getting published. Now admittedly you can’t remove all of the personal skill from outreach, but this study will give much more clarity on what journalists in a given publication or vertical actually want."


The research looked at 20 publishers in each of the five verticals: technology, travel, health, entertainment and personal finance. Depending on the section, the analysis was conducted taking either; the 1,000 most recent articles from each site, the 1,000 most shared articles, or up to 10,000 of the most shared articles published on each site in the last year.

The full report is available to download free on BuzzStream’s website.

Article written by Laura Crimmons, founder at PR agency Silverthorn Agency

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