By Vicki Curtis, Senior Client Consultant

Change has arrived in the PR industry. Synapse, a new platform devised by former Dow Jones and Gorkana executive, Charles Russell, and PR legend Mark Borkowski, aims to transform the way that journalists and PR professionals communicate. The idea is that journalists can access a custom-filtered inbox of PR pitches that are relevant to them, and PRs can discover new media and influencer contacts and pitch interesting angles and fresh perspectives.

I can see why the idea has materialised. There’s been an industry-wide friction between journalists and PRs for many years. Cision’s Global State of the Media Report 2023 discovered that only 7% of journalists say the majority of pitches they get are relevant to their audience. It’s a shockingly low statistic. But why has it come to this? If PR professionals across the board were tailoring pitches, understanding media and only sending relevant emails to the right journalists, would there be a need for these new types of services?

Time for a rethink

It’s time for PR professionals to rethink the way they approach their work so that they don’t have to solely rely on these emerging platforms. However, it must be said that technology can deliver some helpful tools. For example, Synapse allows journalists to filter the pitches they receive from PRs by topic and format. They are also able to flag pitches that aren’t relevant to them. Similarly, PRs will be able to see who has viewed or accepted their pitches.

But it’s also our responsibility, as PR people, to consider the perspective of journalists and know what is going to resonate with them in the first place and not simply rely on the tech. This is incredibly important as the Cision research also revealed that as many as three in four journalists will block a media relations professional who spams them with irrelevant pitches.

Many PR agencies are structuring their internal teams to feature dedicated media specialists. These employees are focused solely on media activity and building relationships with journalists, which feeds into the second requirement of the modern day PR professional. Now that we’re fully clear of the pandemic, it’s time for PRs to step out from behind the screens and set up relationship building meetings with key media figures.

The trend for intermediaries

More than 1000 journalists from across more than 140 titles, including The Mirror, The Express, The Scotsman and OK! Magazine have signed up to Synapse. As the platform gathers pace, more look likely to join, but it remains to be seen as to what extent it will help to alleviate the issues between PRs and journalists.

One aspect that is clear is the growing trend towards ‘matchmaking platforms’ across industries. Whether it’s matching pitches to journalists, brands to agencies or even investors to entrepreneurs, there’s a big focus now on employees looking to save time with supporting platforms. In this sense, the technology could help employees to streamline their day-to-day tasks.

However, while tools such as Synapse offer promising solutions to bridge the gap between journalists and PR professionals, these innovations shouldn’t overshadow the fundamental principles of PR, including relationship-building and understanding the media landscape. Professionals must ensure that they get these basics right, and the unique value that only they can provide is building those human connections that technology can’t replicate. Only by merging these capabilities can the PR industry be truly revolutionised for the better.

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