What journalists want from PRs in February 2024

Easter, Mother’s Day, and day-to-day help: What journalists need from PRs in February 2024

It’s been a busy first month of the new year for the media with the Post Office scandal, the on-going Israel-Palestine conflict, and three storms hitting the UK to cover.

January is also, typically, the busiest month on the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service. Below, we look at what journalists have been requesting from UK PRs and what the media will be looking for throughout the rest of February and beyond.

New Year resolutions and trends

Back in December, journalist requests for trends and resolutions was particularly popular, with ‘2024’ the top keyword. That proved to be the same in January, with the year being included in 11.5% of the total requests. Journalists were still searching for ‘trends’ (which featured in nearly 3% of the January enquiries) and ‘resolution’ (which appeared in just over 1%).

The variation in what topic they were looking to cover though was wide. Enquiries included 2024 oil and gas industry trends; curtain and blind trends for 2024; maritime experts to predict industry trends for 2024; comments on tech layoffs so far in 2024; and possible trends for the year ahead.

Outlets looking for new year trends were diverse, too, with The Grocer, PA Media, IT Pro, GB News, The Independent, Verdict, and Red magazine all sending requests. The amount of enquiries with the keyword ‘2024’ will likely decline from now. However, there will still be opportunities to get experts and information around trends out, probably based around the seasons. Topics like fashion, gardening, travel, skincare, and technology could be focus points.

The healthy lifestyle

The prediction in last month’s overview that keywords like ‘fitness’ and ‘wellbeing’ would feature regularly turned out to be correct, but it was ‘healthy’ that appeared the most. Just under 11% of all requests in January contained the keyword as journalists focused heavily on lifestyle content. ‘Fitness’ was in over 3% of enquiries and ‘wellbeing’ cropped up in a little under 2%.

The Health category therefore enjoyed a big boost in the number of requests and was the second most popular on the service after Women’s Interest & Beauty. This is unsurprising as there was both Dry January and Veganuary last month. It meant lots of enquiries were looking for experts such as dieticians, nutritionists, personal trainers, and doctors.

Requests around mental health and experts in that field also did well, with ‘mental health’ as a keyphrase occuring in 2% of the total January enquiries. This could have been to tie in with Time to Talk Day. However, mental health and requests for experts in general on health are a regular occurrence on the Enquiry Service. If you are an expert or have a client that is in this field, there will be more opportunities in the next few months.

What journalists were using the service?

In January, 55% of the journalists that sent an enquiry were staff journalists. Freelance journalists were second on 27%. They mainly came from consumer media titles (39%), followed by national newspaper and current affairs outlets on 18%. Trade, business, and professional media accounted for 12% of the requests in January.

The enquiries for a spokesperson or expert made up just under 40% of the total last month. 20% of journalists were looking for information for an article, with 11% requesting review products and 9% trying to find case studies. Seven of the top ten outlets in January were national press with the other three coming from consumer media.

Opportunities for PRs in February and beyond

There is likely to be a big increase in the amount of requests around products and gift guides for Mother’s Day (10 March). 2% of requests in January already contained this key phrase. This will in turn mean a rise in the amount of enquiries for the Women’s Interest & Beauty category. Food & Drink could also see a boost and we will see ‘Easter’ as a new keyword as journalists look to get ahead with coverage for that holiday in March.

Experts will also be in demand with February being LGTBQ+ History Month. Plus, March is both Prostate Cancer Awareness and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. That coinciding with coverage of the King’s cancer diagnosis means that doctors and medical experts should be in demand by journalists at both national press and broadcast outlets.

Start getting requests like these from UK journalists and broadcasters straight to your inbox by signing up for the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Want more information on getting the most out of the service? Read our advice piece ‘How to respond to journalist enquiries’.

Media Interview with Ben Riley-Smith, political editor at The Daily Telegraph

Party conference season, the Trump phenomenon, and preparing for the next UK General Election: Media interview with The Daily Telegraph’s political editor Ben Riley-Smith

The last two weeks have seen both the Conservatives and Labour hold their annual Party Conferences. Ben Riley-Smith, political editor at The Telegraph, was there to cover both of them as the two major UK parties prepare for a General Election.

Ben has covered many of the major political moments during his 11 years of reporting at The Telegraph, with the 13 years of Conservative Government covered in his first book The Right to Rule. He has reported on the seismic shift in UK politics following the Brexit referendum, and followed political unrest in the US, having become US editor shortly after Donald Trump was elected President. 

We caught up with him to discuss the Party Conference season this year, covering such a difficult period in American politics, and the key differences between political and general news reporting you should know about.

Ben Riley-Smith

What are your favourite things about this time of year in political journalism? 

The Party Conferences are kind of chaotic to cover as a journalist because you’re trying to stay across all news that is emerging. You almost don’t have as many reporters as potential news sources. There’s what’s happening in the conference hall itself and from the beginning to the end of the day, there are speeches that need to be covered. Then there are the fringe events which are often panels of four people where ministers or shadow ministers will speak more freely in a much more unprepared setting. 

Sometimes they say things that are eye-catching, and you need to jump on them, but there are more fringes than we have reporters so trying to work out which ones to prioritise and which ones to get to is tricky. Then you have briefings of what’s going on the next day and there’s lots of media interviews with people who might make news, and then you’re trying to find out your own story, so it’s hectic and chaotic. 

What was most interesting to cover during the political party conferences this year? 

The Conservative and Labour conferences were both fascinating in different ways. Certainly Labour was the more upbeat one. The Tories have been in power for 13 years and close to 20 percentage points behind in the polls. They are trying to work out what to do in the next 12 months to change the political dynamics to get the chance of another term. You saw Rishi Sunak take the stage and the theory of the Tory strategists is they need to make this guy appear to be the change candidate because the party seems to be the status quo. That they could  lose because the British electorate appears to be tired and frustrated with politics. 

The Prime Minister therefore came out with a series of different big announcements. Some of them the Tories knew would trigger criticism, like the scrapping of HS2, but they were hoping the message to voters was a willingness to change fundamental issues in the country. But then they need to somehow change the political dynamic. 

At the Labour Party Conference, they’ve been out of power for the past 13 years and possibly this time next year they’ll be in power. You could feel that optimism and feel that interest from the business community and other third party groups everywhere you went. The hall for Sir Keir Starmer’s speech was absolutely packed, even the standing room areas were full, and some people had to be turned away at the door. 

There were business representatives trying to catch the ear of certain Labour people because if you’re a business, or if you’re a public affairs company representing businesses, you know by the end of next year, it could be a Labour government for the next half a decade determining the rules and regulations. 

Everywhere you went at the Labour Conference, you got the sense that they genuinely believe come the end of next year, they could be in power. 

You have been covering politics at the Telegraph (both UK and US) for over 10 years now, how has the political landscape changed in that time?

I think there’s a very clear before and after moment which was the Brexit referendum, because that was something that threw Britain’s economic and foreign policy strategy up in the air. 

Obviously, at the time, the UK Government was urging people not to do it. Cameron and Osborne and likewise, the Labour leadership and likewise the Lib Dem leadership, etc. The major political parties and their leaderships were telling the country not to go down this route, and yet the voters decided otherwise. 

Whether you love Brexit or loathe Brexit, I think everybody would agree that it’s just dominated the political discourse for years. Other reforms or issues in British society were pushed to one side to some degree because it needed so much bandwidth in Westminster to work out the shape of what Brexit would be getting through Parliament. 

Brexit shook the snowglobe with politics and we’re still seeing things landing. 

And what have been some of your favourite stories to cover over the last ten years?

When I was in America as US editor, what was fascinating was the Donald Trump phenomenon. I call it that because it was beguiling and concerning, and trying as an outsider to get your head around that phenomenon was an honour and a real challenge. 

I went out there after he won the election and then covered the second election in 2020, and I think in Britain it can be viewed through quite a narrow, slightly stereotypical lens. But going out there and going to a lot of those Southern communities and trying to understand the appeal of Trump was fascinating.

In 2020, I think 70 million Americans voted for him. The stereotypes of these people being xenophobic and ignorant is far too simplistic – it’s a huge swathe of the country.

I remember when I first went out there and went to some of his rallies and some of the communities that voted for him, something that really struck me was how associated he was with the ultimate business success. ‘The Apprentice’ had been running for many years, and if there was one figure in American society who was most linked to business success, it was probably Donald Trump. There was this long-running mantra in American politics that someone needs to come in from outside and shake up Washington DC, and the country doesn’t need a politician, it needs a CEO. And this guy knows how to do it because he’s run businesses and he’s successful. That was certainly the image that was being projected. 

Going to those communities and going to his rallies, and trying to understand the nuance of the appeal that he had to certain sections in southern America particularly was fascinating.

What major differences are there between political reporting and general news reporting – what do people need to know? 

I think relationship development is a massive part of political journalism. If you’re a general news reporter, jumping on events that come out of the blue and trying to cover them, you’re coming to everything fresh. But if you have a beat like a political reporter does, you somehow need to develop contacts with MPs and advisors and campaigners with all the different political parties. 

A lot of the challenge is getting someone who has their eyes on something that you want to know about to talk to you. And striking that right balance can be very difficult because sometimes you think somebody might talk to you because it’s in their best interest to share what they know. Other times you might need to write a story that is critical about a particular MP or particular party who you have a relationship with. You just have to say, this is a massive story and we are covering it even if it’s damaging for you. So it can be quite transactional. You certainly don’t want to cross into the territory where someone thinks they’re your friend because then one day, you might need to write about ‘x Mp’ or ‘x advisor’ or ‘x policy area’. And you want to do that as clearly as possible. 

That challenge is central to political journalism; how you develop those relationships, how you convince people to pick up the phone and tell you what’s going on, but also how you keep sufficient distance that if you need to write critical things that you can do.

The other thing with political reporting is that you need to totally strip away your own political views. If you’re a sports correspondent or an arts correspondent, your own personal political views are not that relevant. But for us, you somehow have to go through this process of trying to be as objective as possible and try to switch off your personal political leanings. You’ve got to try to approach every story like that rather than thinking, ‘I hate x and y people or policies’. That’s another critical difference.

For a round-up of how the UK media are covering UK politics, sign up to the weekly Vuelio Point of Order newsletter here

Check out our round-ups of key mission statements from both the Conservative and Labour leaders at this year’s conferences. 

October 2023 trends on the Journalist Enquiry Service

Festivities, fitness, and topical trends – what journalists need from PRs in October

It’s still nearly two months before we can open the first door on our advent calendars, but journalists and bloggers have already been looking to get their hands on them for reviews and features.

Wondering what else the media are looking for? This roundup of all the topics and trends on the Journalist Enquiry Service in September will shed some light and provide you with pointers for getting media coverage in October.

Sign up for the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to start receiving requests from the UK media straight to your inbox.

A flurry of festive enquiries

Christmas requests started to trickle through from July and are now the dominant keyword on the Journalist Enquiry Service. Last month, over 13% of the total requests contained the keyword ‘Christmas’. This is double the number we saw in August.

A lot of these requests have been for a ‘gift guide’, which as a key phrase occurred in 8% of the enquiries. While ‘advent calendar’ also performed well and there were just under 3% of the total requests looking for these. Journalists at heat magazine, MailOnline, The Sun and Glamour have used the key phrase ‘advent calendar’ while reporters at Town & County, Bella, Yours and The Guardian have sent enquiries for ‘gift guides’.

This will remain pretty constant throughout October and November, meaning plenty of opportunities to get products and samples out and covered in both consumer media and national press titles.

A strong showing for fitness

A keyword that you would normally expert to find in January that was prevalent last month (appearing in just under 3% of the total requests last month) was ‘fitness’, perhaps because of National Fitness Day on 25th September.

Some journalists were looking to get ahead of the curve with one looking for information on ‘Health, fitness and wellness events taking place in 2024’. Others were more focused on the here and now, as another journalist asked for ‘Fitness gear for fall: must-have equipment and apparel.’ This resulted in a very healthy 23% increase for the Leisure & Hobbies category.

A BOO-m for Halloween

We mentioned last month that ‘Halloween’ would naturally increase in popularity throughout September and that proved to be the case as the amount of requests doubled. This holiday is normally popular with children and the Children & Teenagers category saw a 23% rise as a result.

Journalists from the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Metro and Stylist.co.uk all sent Halloween-related requests last month. These varied from wanting suggestions for costumes, to events for adults and kids, to Halloween home decor ideas. This should continue to be a trend until we reach the holiday at the end of the month, so still time to get coverage in the media if you have products/events along these lines.

Topical trends – From AI to mental health

Seasonal events like Christmas and Halloween will always do well on the Journalist Enquiry Service, but what about the trending topics each month? 

‘AI’ performed strongly with just over 2% of the total requests featuring it as a keyword. This has been a trending topic for most of the year but could also link into legal issues for ChatGPT around copyright relating to ‘Game of Thrones’ and other media properties. The Consumer Technology category had the second biggest increase from August as it rose 24% – only Men’s Interest improved more at 27%.

Another trend that we have, unfortunately, seen for a while is around the cost-of-living. September’s focus has been on energy, with journalists asking for advice from experts on reducing bills ahead of the Winter months. ‘Energy’ as a keyword featured in just under 2% of last month’s enquiries. The Times, The i paper and ITV News all covered this topic and it should remain a keyword, presenting more opportunities to get an expert featured in the national media.

‘Mental health’ has been another key phrase performing well on the service, with World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September and World Mental Health Day coming up on 10 October. Enquiries around this topic are usually for experts or information and statistics. The Health category, which is regularly the second most used each month by journalists , saw an 8% increase as a result.

What are journalists using the service for?

The majority of journalists using the service in September were looking for a spokesperson or expert (34%). Review products was the second most popular enquiry type on 24%, with information for an article next on 22% and personal case study fourth on 11%. Most of the journalists were from consumer media (35%), with national newspaper/current affairs second on 26% and trade/business/professional media third on 18%.

51% of people sending a request were staff journalists, while 27% were freelance journalists – making up nearly 80% of the service. In terms of the top outlets sending requests, eight of them were national press and the other two were consumer titles.

Opportunities for PRs in October?

‘Halloween’ will see a final flourish as a keyword and ‘Christmas’ is likely to increase again as the festive season approaches. Both keywords present chances to get review products featured. 

If you work with experts and spokespeople, then health is the hot topic this month. As we mentioned, World Mental Health Day is coming up, as is World Menopause Day. It’s also time to celebrate Black History Month, so we expect journalists to be looking for comment. We could also see a boost for the Travel category, with the October half-term holiday in a couple of weeks’ time.

To start receiving requests from the UK media to your inbox, find out more about the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Gen Z journalists

When, how, and what to pitch when working with Gen Z journalists

The first rule of PR is knowing how to engage with journalists. Knowing when to pitch, how to get in contact and what a journalist is looking for can help to build the foundations of a relationship. But what do the new generation of journalists like – and not like – when it comes to working with PRs?

We spoke to Livingetc news editor Lilith Hudson, Telegraph global health security desk journalist Lilia Sebouai, and woman&home senior fashion & beauty writer Amelia Yeomans to find out about working in the media industry as a Gen Zer, contact preferences, and the importance of social media.

Industry perceptions

Everyone has thoughts or ideas on what the workplace will be like before they start on their career path. Lilia’s perception of journalism mainly came from film and TV and this wasn’t the reality she was greeted with: 

‘I didn’t expect that I would be in an office everyday, I kind of expected to be out on different jobs in new areas each day, but this changed with the rise of social media.’

The importance of technology within journalism was picked up on by Lilth and Amelia. Amelia ‘didn’t realise how much of the industry would rely on things like SEO and e-comm, and how highly valued skills in those areas are.’ 

Lilith backed this: ‘Within lifestyle journalism and interiors as a whole, there’s been a massive move towards digital’ and that journalists therefore ‘have to adapt to producing the content’ as a result.

Getting in contact

All three journalists agreed that email is the best way to get in contact with them. For Amelia, it’s useful having everything in one place so she can then search for something specific: 

I look back through my emails all the time to search for experts or products, so an email with a clear subject line stating what’s in the body of the email is always appreciated.’ 

A lot of Lilith’s work is with the US and therefore ‘when it comes to commentary, it’s usually email responses’ that are the most beneficial.

The stereotype is that Gen Z don’t like contact via phone, but neither Lilia or Lilith were against it. Lilia said that ‘for articles with a deadline, it’s often best to just have a quick call’ as her work at the Telegraph is closely tied in with the news cycle. Lilith hasn’t had a phone call from a PR but will call switchboards for big PR firms that she needs comment from as she’s ‘not afraid to pick up the phone.’ 

However, for Amelia, phone calls are a definite no. 

‘We’re so pushed for time that I really don’t have a free minute to answer the phone – much better to lay everything out in an email and I will always get in contact if it’s relevant to what I’m working on.’

Relationship building

Establishing a good working relationship with PRs is as important to the new generation of journalists as it is to the current one. Amelia said that she will ‘speak to PRs daily for things like product recommendations and expert quotes, so if there’s someone I know well and know I can rely on that makes everything so much simpler.’ 

Lilia also recognised the need for good communication with PRs. She said ‘building PR relationships can be good for securing interviews with high-profile interviewees/guaranteeing us exclusive access to stories. I prefer face-to-face meetings for long-term projects like this.’

Lilith’s work has changed now that she is working more for a US audience but still thinks it’s ‘really key to have a real rapport and real relationship’ with PRs. She gave the example of how recently a few sources had not come back to her with commentary so she reached out to a PR that she had an excellent relationship with. She asked if they could get anything over to her within 24 hours and the PR did it within 12. 

‘If it wasn’t for the fact that she knew my name, and she knew to look out for me in her inbox, I don’t think that would have happened.’ 

This underlines the importance of building and maintaining a strong relationship with journalists, and showing that you are a reliable and helpful source when it matters.

Social media preferences

Most journalists, whether Gen Z or not, are on a variety of social media platforms. But should PRs be contacting them there? Amelia isn’t really a fan:

‘I really don’t like PRs contacting me through them unless it’s someone I already have an established relationship with. Once I know someone and have met them multiple times it’s fine for them to drop me a message, but I’m not comfortable with being contacted by anyone I’m not friendly with as my social pages are personal and I want to keep my work separate.’

That separation between professional and personal social media is where the lines can be blurred. Lilith agreed that ‘it’s kind of a difficult line to toe in terms of whether it’s a professional or personal account.’ She also isn’t keen on PRs reaching out to her on socials unless she is using X (formerly known as Twitter) for a quick comment with #Journorequest. Lilia will also use X for work, as well as Reddit and TikTok. However, again there is crossover as she will use TikTok for pleasure too, alongside Instagram. Generally, it’s probably best to avoid contacting Gen Z journalists via socials.

Gen Z stereotypes and the future of work

Each generation comes with their own stereotypes and Lilia ran through the negative ones for her age group and the ‘Gen Z’ label: ‘Gen Z are obsessed with their phones and unoriginal and lazy’. 

But she actually likes the term ‘Gen Z’, and rather than believing any negative connotations, everyone at the Telegraph ‘expects me to be all over TikTok’. Amelia put a further positive spin on this saying that ‘most people associate Gen Z with being in touch with current trends, which is good as a journalist’.

Lilith agreed that ‘there’s an expectation that you will be more clued on socials’. She also pointed out there’s been a lot of talk around ‘quiet quitting’ being a Gen Z movement. However, Lilith feels that their generation ‘just have very different expectations around their work life – ‘we’re not prepared to give up our entire lives for our work.’ 

The future of work is in flux with the introduction of AI and concepts like the Metaverse. Gen Z are stereotypically pro technology and up to speed with new innovations. However, all three journalists were unsure of what impact it would have on journalism, with Amelia commenting that ‘so much is unknown at the moment’. 

Whatever the future does hold, it’s clear that Gen Z journalists are as keen as previous generations to work closely with PRs.

Want more on how to work with Gen Z? Download our Vuelio white paper ‘The PR Guide to communicating with Gen Z‘. 

To start getting enquiries and requests from journalists like this, straight to your inbox, check out the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service



How journalists are writing about Gen Z

Work, life, and finances: How the media are covering Gen Z

The first real digital native generation, Gen Z, or those born between 1997 and 2012, is an age group in demand with industries from fashion to dating desperately trying to get its attention.

The media frequently covers the demographic, so we examined their approach and the opportunities for PRs that we’ve seen via the Journalist Enquiry Service.

Gen Z: A popular topic for the media

Gen Z as a keyword has fluctuated in popularity as a keyword over the last six months on the enquiry service. However, the number of requests containing ‘Gen Z’ has doubled from August to September.

These requests have tended to focus on the generation’s attitude towards work and the workplace. This included a request from a national press journalist who was looking for comment on the trend for so-called ‘lazy girl jobs’ – which is quite often associated with Gen Z. While a trade journalist wanted to know if Generation Z was having a hard time adapting to in-person workplaces.

Gen Z at work

This focus on Gen Z and work meant that a lot of the requests came from trade titles. In fact, 44% of requests around this keyword were from trade/business/professional media. Journalists at HR Grapevine, Business Leader, People Management and StartUps.co.uk have all been exploring this topic over the last few months. It has varied from looking for information, to wanting case studies and expert comment, so if you have any clients with expertise in this area then there should be more opportunities.

Money as a motivator

Closely associated with the topic of work is finance, and there have been several enquiries looking to explore this area. These have included looking for a figure/research on Gen Z’s discretionary spending each month and for information on whether money is the biggest motivator for them. All of these enquiries around work and finance meant that 52% of the requests containing the keyword ‘Gen Z’ were in the Business & Finance category, 45% were for the Education and Human Resources category, and 31% were in Personal Finance.

Life as a Gen Zer

However, it hasn’t just been work and finance that journalists have been looking into around Gen Z. The Women’s Interest category was the third most used category, on 38%. A national press journalist was looking for case studies of women choosing to freeze their eggs in their 20s, and another national press reporter was looking for a sex and relationship expert to comment on why Gen Z are having less sex.

Most interested in writing about the age group? National press

In fact, 33% of all enquiries around Gen Z as a keyword were from national newspaper/current affairs outlets. This included The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, PA Media, The Guardian and the Evening Standard. They varied from looking at the women’s interest/health angle, to work and finance, to exploring Gen Z’s relationship with technology as well as what their interests are. On the tech side, one journalist was looking for an academic for a piece on the relationship between AI technology and Gen Z workers. Another was looking to hear from publishers/literary agents/YA experts about why royal-themed romances are so popular with Gen Z.

This shows that while requests around Gen Z in work and their finances are the most popular, there is a great deal of variety of enquiries around this topic. The need for experts/spokespeople, as we see on a monthly basis on the Journalist Enquiry Service, is the most in demand, though. 48% of the enquiries for Gen Z as a keyword fit into this enquiry type and this definitely provides the best avenue going forward for securing coverage in the media.

Want to start receiving requests from UK journalists, broadcasters, and influencers direct to your inbox? Check out the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service