All PR pros are aware of the grim numbers game behind the practice of media pitching. How bad is it? According to a recent study by PR software platform Propel, only about eight percent of the pitches sent to journalists ever result in a published article.

Propel’s study, which sought to uncover insights about the pitching process, including what topics PR pros pitch about the most and which ones are most likely to receive attention from the media, discovered that journalists open only 29 percent of the pitches they’re sent and respond to only about three percent (3.27 percent) of them. In total, only about eight percent of the pitches sent by PR pros result in a published article.

In reality, that eight percent publishing rate might paint too rosy of a picture. Because determining when content is published is an optional, manual feature in Propel’s software, the eight-percent article-published rate applies only to top-performing agencies in Propel’s client base. So, the real pitch-to-publish rate is likely much lower.

The Propel study found that the top 10 topics most often pitched to the press are technology and computing, business and industrial, health and fitness, art and entertainment, finance, family and parenting, education, food and drink, society and law, government and politics.

Propel: The highest percentage of pitches are opened by journalists between 10-11 a.m.
The highest percentage of pitches are opened by journalists between 10-11 a.m.

According to the Propel study, the pitch categories that resulted in the most responses were business and industrial (4.17 percent), society (3.56 percent), art and entertainment (3.37 percent), food and drink (3.27 percent), finance (3.11 percent) and technology and computing (2.74 percent).

Finally, the study found that PR pros send the highest percentage of pitches to the press at around 9 a.m. However, the study also discovered that media pros actually open a majority of the pitches they receive a little later, at around 11 a.m. The vast majority of these pitch opens are concentrated in the first half of the day, before 1 p.m., and most journalists will open a pitch within the first 30 minutes after receiving it. More than a third (35 percent) open pitches within a minute after it arrives in their inbox.

Propel’s latest “Media Barometer” study was based on an analysis of more than 1.2 million pitches to journalists from March 2020-March 2021.