According to the new Propel Media Barometer, it was harder than ever for PR pros to turn a pitch into a piece of earned media in Q4 2022.

While the study says that the open rate for PR pitches remained fairly steady (39.11 percent vs. 40 percent in Q3), the number of responses dropped to 2.66 percent in Q4 2022 from 3.35 percent in Q3.

In addition, a sped-up media cycle has resorted in a far shorter window during which pitches can have their desired effect. A majority of pitches that get opened (54.79 percent) are opened within an hour of being received and less than 10 percent are opened more than two days after sending.

Response times are also speeding up—only 12 percent of responses come more than three days after the pitch has been sent. Plus, a majority of articles that result from pitches (55.83 percent) are published with three days of the pitch sent. (However, 11 percent of articles take more than a month to convert.)

The study dispenses a few tips on how PR pros can make their pitches rapid-fire attention-getters. The main takeaway: keep it short. The optimum subject length is 1-5 words, pitch leads should be limited to 51-80 words, and the body of pitch is best limited to 150 words.

And while outlets such as the BBC, New York Times and Wall Street Journal are the most popular targets for pitches, the study reminds PR pros that “smaller outlets with a more specific reader base relevant to your target audience can actually provide much greater return on investment.”

The Q1 2023 Propel Media Barometer examined approximately 500,000 pitches sent via the Propel platform during Q4 2022.