Links in the journalist request alert emails and the button labels in the online media request archives have, rather reluctantly, been updated for 𝕏, the new name for the website formerly known as Twitter.
Journalists are welcome to submit their media requests for comment to an established network of public relations professionals at agencies, businesses, charities and universities using the Dot Star Media journalist enquiry form.
Natalie Trice will be hosting PR Live, the first in a series of ‘meet the journalist’ events on Friday 10 November 2023. The launch event features three established freelance journalists each speaking about their careers and how best to pitch stories to them. Each speaker session is followed by a question and answer sessions and live pitching opportunities.
Event #1: The Freelance Session
Kelly Rose Bradford
Kelly has been a freelance journalist for over 25 years. today she divides her time between freelancing as a features writer and commercial copywriter with a staff position with one of the UK’s biggest newspaper and magazine publishers. With extensive television and radio experience as a social commentator, Kelly will open your eyes to the potential of PR and the need to pitch well.
Sarah has been working in real-life and human-interest journalism for the past 17 years. After working as the features editor for Best magazine for six years, she is now a freelance writer and a parenting columnist. Sarah works for all of the national magazines and newspapers and it’s a job she still feels passionately about and a world she will let you into.
Sam has been a features writer for the last 15 years and mainly writes for the Daily Mail, The Sun and various women’s weekly magazines. Before that, she worked in the US and UK in television where she was an award winning documentary producer. Got a question about hitting the right note with the press, Sam will tell you how.
Tickets and Event Details
Friday, 11th November 2023 at 10:45am
Session 1: 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM – Kelly Rose Bradford
Session 2: 12:00 PM – 12:50 PM – Sarah Whitely
Session 3: 1:00 PM – 1:50 PM – Sam Brick
Tickets are £25/session (discount available for all three sessions) and available from the PR Live website
Using Python and AI to analyse 1,320 PR Agency website home page title and description meta tags.
We extracted web page meta tag data from over a thousand public relations agency homepages and did some text data analysis.
The most generic PR Agency description tag ever written.
Given a text file of 1,320 UK PR Agency meta tag page descriptions Claude.AI was asked to assimilate the text and write the most generic PR agency description tag possible. The resulting, rather soulless, AI generated, most generic PR Agency description is:-
“Award-winning PR agency offering integrated communications strategies including media relations, digital marketing, content creation, brand building and crisis management. Based in the UK.”
Here’s the prompt:
One discovery from this research is that 108 out of 1320 PR agency websites didn’t have a home page meta description at all. Google has said for a long time that meta discription tags are not a search ranking factor, so while not critically important, meta descriptions are easy to add and can help improve click through from search results.
Common keywords in PR Agency page title and page descriptions
We used Python to crawl page title and page descriptions. The extracted results were then tokenised, cleaned, and stopwords removed before counting word frequencies. From a dataset of 1,320 UK PR Agency websites, the words that occur most frequently in UK PR Agency page description and page title meta tags are shown in the chart below.
The dominance of London shows through. There are so many agencies describing themselves in their page descriptions as award winning that one wonders if it’s a distinguishing factor at all.
For fun, and to maybe take the analysis a step too far, let’s look for patterns of similar messaging in how UK PR Agencies describe themselves and identify any outliers. First, the text data is converted into numerical vectors using the Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF) vectorisation. Then an attempt is made to cluster the PR Agency page descriptions into categories based on common themes using the K-Means clustering algorithm.
Overall the page descriptions used by PR Agencies do (as you might expect) share pretty similar characteristcs. This is why we have one large mega-blob on the cluster chart below.
Manually reviewing meta descriptions within each cluster revealed groups of agencies that put their emphasis on ‘Public Relations’, some that lean towards emphasising their ‘Sector Specialism’, a group of agencies that focus on their ‘Digital Marketing’ expertise, and a less well defined cluster of agencies around ‘Marketing Communications’. The outlying green cluster is mainly those agencies with no, or incomplete page meta tags.
Most of this post has little to do with our media request service – that said, if you are a sector specialist interested in receiving prompt alerts for #journorequest posts from 𝕏/Twitter, and also in receiving journalist requests submitted by journalists directly on our website – please register for a 14-day free trial.
Dot Star Media technology monitors tweets posted to #journorequest and other related hashtags on Twitter. We identify which tweets are requests from journalists and send prompt alerts to subscribers – by email, Teams or Slack.
Frequency of hashtags appearing in journalist requests can give an indication of what subjects are in journalist minds.
Many themes are seasonal or recurring. Knowing what typically gets talked about through the course of a (normal) year can help with campaign planning.
Here’s a month-by-month look at top hashtags used by verified journalists over the last year or so.
JournoRequest themes – September 2023
It’s September, so it’s time for #halloween and #christmas journalist requests. The #raac (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) crisis blew up a few days before schools returned. This generated several short deadline media requests for both expert comment and personal experience. We saw journalist using hashtags #travelpr and #foodpr to connect with specialists in these areas.
JournoRequest themes – August 2023
An astonishing third month of #barbie related requests in August 2023, this month alongside #oppenheimer movie, which was released on the same day. A seasonal trend seen every August is journalists looking for content around #backtoschool, and starting #university. From the world of sport the #fifawwc saw the #lionesses have a run to the final – and losing to Spain. Journalists found journorequest a useful channel for seeking comment on #airtrafficcontrol problems that caused misery for many travellers.
JournoRequest themes – July 2023
In July 2023 climate issues, such as the #wildfires in #rhodes and the European #heatwave dominated the news and saw several requests for comment. The #costofliving crisis continues and from the world of entertainment did interest around #barbie and the #barbiemovie
JournoRequest themes – June 2023
In June 2023 on #journorequest we see artificial intelligence occupying minds with both #ai and #chatgpt and even #aiart appearing in several journalist requests this month. Economic issues are prevalent, with #interestrates and mortgagecrisis. Travel related requests were frequent as we move into high summer.
JournoRequest themes – May 2023
Looking at hashtags used by journalists on #journorequest in May 2023 we see artificial intelligence occupying minds with #ai appearing in multiple journalist requests this month. Other frequent hashtags seen in May 2023 media requests are #eurovision, #localelections2023 and #gardening and #holidays.
In April 2023 the top two hashtags used by journalists on #journorequest were #ai and #coronation, followed by #travel and #juniordoctorstrike
#internationalwomensday and #iwd2023 were frequent topics in March 2023. There were requests about the #budget. #costoflivingcrisis dropped out of the top hashtags used by journalists on #journorequest for the first month in seven months.
#costoflivingcrisis was the top hashtag mentioned by journalists in February 2023 in their #journorequest posts. Journalists worked on story angles around how the cost of living crisis impacts the dating scene, living back at parents, socialising, and disabled people. Other common themes for February 2023 were #nhs and #valentinesday. Here’s a word cloud of the most frequent hashtags in the month.
The top five hashtags mentioned by journalists in Jan 2023 on their #journorequest posts – #nhs, #parenting, #travel, #mentalhealth, #fashion. And #valentinesday was next on the list. We spotted some useful thoughts from fashion writer Laura Craik on PR pitches hooked around Valentine’s Day in a recent Roxhill RoxStars newsletter.
In December 2022, besides #christmas, judging by the content of #journorequest (and related hashtags) on Twitter, the media turned its attention to #travel. Unfortunately #costofliving / #costoflivingcrisis topics continue, with 1970s style industrial relations topics emerging as new trends – #railstrikes appeared in our top hashtag word cloud roundup for the first time.
Top hashtag in November 2022 was #christmas followed by #travel. There were a handful of popular hashtags around the football World Cup. As winter begins to bite, #costofliving and #costofliving crisis are topics that remain on the minds of journalists.
For the third month running #CostOfLivingCrisis was the most frequent hashtag used by journalists posting journalist requests to #JournoRequest (and related hashtags) on Twitter. Related to cost of living issues are call-outs for data and case studies on the consequences of increasing #mortgage costs. Journalists looking for #Christmas related content is standard seasonal fare for October.
#costoflivingcrisis and related hashtags, like #mortgage continue to be front of mind for journalists posting requests in September 2022.
#costofliving, #costoflivingcrisis and #energycrisis were frequent topics on Twitter’s #journorequest in August 2022
In July 2022 the dominant themes indicated by hashtags used by journalists posting requests to #journorequest were sport with #euro2022 #lionessess and #commonwealthgames2022 prominent. Travel chaos that occurred at Dover (#dover and #doverchaos) at the start of most school summer holidays, and in the entertainment – again, #loveisland
June 2022 saw requests looking for comment on the impact of rail workers strikes. We also had the annual Pride month and the much anticipated return of Glastonbury festival generating media requests.
Based on hashtag analysis of journalist requests the Cost of Living crisis was a dominant theme for May 2022. The #platinumjubilee is a less than once-in-a lifetime event and is getting plenty of journalists requesting contributions around jubilee themed events and activities.
Cost of living crisis and the HRT shortage emerged as topics in April 2022.
One of the most popular hashtags on 𝕏 (formerly Twitter) for journalists is #journorequest, which – as readers here will know – allows journalists to find sources, experts, or stories for their articles. But has the use of this hashtag changed since Elon Musk took over 𝕏 (Twitter) in October 2022?
We analysed the data and found that the number of journalists using #journorequest has remained broadly stable since the Musk acquisition.
The chart below shows the monthly count of individual journalists using #journorequest from April 2022 to March 2023. There is no significant increase or decrease in the trend, despite all the controversial changes that Musk has introduced to the platform.
This suggests that journalists are continuing to find value in using #journorequest on Twitter to connect with potential sources and stories.
At Dot Star Media we monitor the #journorequest hashtag 24/7 for journalist requests, and send alerts to subscribers for relevant opportunities – helping people respond to journalists promptly and win media coverage. Journalists can also submit requests to our network of public relations professionals, charities, businesses and academic institutions through our free journalist enquiry form.
Journalists writing stories often search for insights, remarks, or interviews from organisations in the sector they are covering. Many journalists post these requests on social media, forums, or specialised platforms. These requests are referred to as media requests, or journalist enquiries. Responding to media requests can be a swift and simple way to get your organisation highlighted in the media.
Who do journalists want to hear from?
All sorts. The kind of organisations journalists seek information from is varied and includes businesses, academia, think-tanks, individual experts, authorities and charities. The actual information or comment sought very much depends on the story.
Who can respond to a media request?
Anyone who can genuinely help a journalist with their story can respond to media requests. In practice many organisations find that hiring a PR agency, who are experts in reviewing and responding to media requests, works well. Business owners can also receive and respond to journalist enquiries directly. Either way, responding to media requests is an established and effective way to earn print and online media coverage in newspapers, consumer magazines and trade titles.
How to respond to media requests?
When responding to media requests it helps if you put yourself in the journalist’s shoes and consider the audience that they are writing for. These tips make it easier for a journalist to work with you:
Be relevant: Journalists frequently complain about off-topic pitches. Read the request carefully – we suggest reading it twice – then make sure your response is relevant to the journalist’s request.
Be prompt: Journalists often have tight deadlines. Responding fast builds trust and establishes you as a reliable source. Being quick gives you a better chance of winning media coverage in a competitive field.
Be transparent: Be open about who you are, who you represent, and what information you can provide. Be clear about any limitations or restrictions on what you can share.
Be concise: It’s ok, and respectful, to keep your initial response short and to the point. If a journalist needs more information from a source, they will ask for it.
Be responsive: Make sure you are available to answer any follow-up questions or provide additional information if needed. Provide a phone number as well as email contact details.
Follow these tips and you’ll improve your chances of securing some media coverage.
Dot Star Media provides a media request service connecting journalists with businesses, academia and charities.
Businesses and public relations people looking to receive journalist enquiries are welcome to try the Dot Star Media journalist enquiry service – see https://dotstar.media/
Journalists can send media requests to a wide range of business, PR, charity and academic sources using this journalist enquiry form. Dot Star Media also monitors Twitter for journalist requests and alerts its network to relevant journalist enquiries. More information on how it works here: https://dotstar.media/journalists/
Do journalists need to worry about Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated content taking their jobs? Here are five areas that journalists can excel at and where AI generated content is poor.
In-depth and investigative reporting AI content is typically designed to generate basic information or summaries, like this blog post. AI is not well-suited to complex or investigative reporting. By focusing on these areas, journalists can provide value and expertise that AI content cannot match.
Providing human perspective and analysis AI content is not capable of providing the human perspective or analysis that is unique to journalists. By highlighting their personal experiences and insights, journalists can differentiate themselves from AI content and provide value to their readers.
Using multimedia and interactive formats AI content is typically limited to text-based formats. Journalists can use multimedia and interactive formats to create engaging and immersive experiences that AI content cannot match.
Having a personal brand In a world where information is easily accessible, journalists can differentiate themselves by building a personal brand and audience. A loyal and engaged following is less likely to be swayed by AI content.
Collaborating with experts AI content is limited by the data and information it has been trained on. Journalists can collaborate with experts to provide a more comprehensive, accurate and current view of the world. The Dot Star Media journalist enquiry service can help journalists find expert sources from businesses, charities and universities.
Like many, I spent some time this weekend playing with ChatGPT and being amazed by its ability to spit out passable ‘content’ on pretty much any subject. Taking the area that Dot Star Media operates in I asked ChatGPT for five reasons why businesses should be responding to journalist enquiries, or media requests, found on Twitter.
It came up with these reasons – all wrapped in the robotic ChatGPT style:
1. To maintain positive relationships with the media. 2. To influencing the narrative around their brand. 3. To help build trust with customers and stakeholders 4. To stay informed, and ‘keep their fingers on the pulse’. 5. To take advantage of opportunities to showcase products, services and expertise.
It’s not a bad list.
The temptation for using AI to mass produce content for SEO purposes is obvious. Indeed, I used AI generated content to support this blog post. But, where will all this lead? One can imagine the web becoming stuffed (more than it already is) with bland AI generated content.
OpenAI assures us that as a Large Language Model (LLM) it can’t actually generate anything original.
If LLM training data itself draws upon AI generated content is there a risk we end up with an ever-worsening web of self-reflecting, endlessly mirrored, AI generated content?
In a world of SEOs and marketers using AI generated content to boost rankings, search engines will want to distinguish derivative AI generated content from the genuinely original content that was created by humans.
OpenAI ‘thinks’ that doing this will be tricky, especially as machine generated text can be ‘humanised’ by a real-living editor.
In a positive note, Paul Graham suggests that in a sea of mediocrity, the “price” of good writing could go up.
There may be parallels here with artisan or organic food. Artisan produce commands a premium price and is available in fewer locations. Maybe we’ll have a class of ‘artisan writing’ for work that’s been lovingly produced by organic humans. Troublingly, artisan food is out of reach to those who can’t afford it. Maybe we’ll see similar barriers emerging for expensively produced human content. Expect more and higher paywalls around the most exclusive and highest quality original content.
Whatever the future brings, Dot Star Media is here to support human journalists. Our journalist enquiry service connects journalists with thousands of human contributors – who are ready and waiting to support journalists do their work creating fresh and originalwriting.
Dot Star Media ‘gold’ tier customers can receive their journalist request notifications in Slack.
Having your journalist requests sent to a Slack channel might work better than email alerts for a couple of reasons: Delivery to Slack is quicker than email and it’s easier for your team to collaborate on the best way to respond to a request.
How to setup Slack for Dot Star Media journalist requests
First of all, decide where you want to see your journalist request alerts. From the Slack desktop application or website choose an existing channel, or create a new Slack channel.
Next, give your new channel a name and description and press the ‘create’ button. You can invite colleagues to the Slack channel that will receive journalist requests now, or later on.
Once your new channel exists the next step is to create a Slack app. Visit https://api.slack.com/apps and press the ‘create new app’ button.
Choose the Create an app ‘From scratch’ option
Your new app will need a name. In this example I called our app ‘Dot Star Media alerts’. Then pick the workspace that contains your channel for receiving journalists requests. Press the ‘Create App’ button.
On the next page, called ‘Building Apps for Slack’, select ‘Incoming Webhooks’
Then, if not already activated, switch the ‘Activate Incoming Webhooks’ to ‘On’. Depending on how you are currently using Slack in your organisation, this may already be selected.
The next step is to press ‘Add New Webhook to Workspace’
Choose which channel to send journalist request alerts to, and press ‘allow’.
You’ll then be taken to a page that provides you with your new Webhook URL. Copy the Webhook URL to your clipboard and head over to the Dot Star Media website
On the Dot Star Media website, from the navigation menu, click ‘Organisation’ and then ‘Configure channels’
This will open the ‘Distribution Channels’ page. Check the ‘Slack webhook enabled’ check box and paste in the Webhook URL from your Slack app into the webhook url box and Save Settings.
And now, your journalist request alerts should feed into your Slack channel as they happen.
There are quite a few steps here. Please contact us for support as required.
When starting on a new job, or patch, journalists often invite suggestions for stories to cover. This makes the moment that a journalist takes on a new role an opportune time to pitch. To help public relations people track journalist job changes we’re maintaining and sharing a collection of journalist ‘job move’ tweets.