By the numbers: This is how many pitches actually get responses

The odds are not in your favor.

How many pitches get opened.

It’s one of the most universal experiences in PR: You toil over a pitch, ensuring every detail is just right. It’s customized for the journalist, it’s pegged to a timely news event, it’s sent at precisely the right moment. 

And you still hear crickets.  

It’s frustrating, but you’re far from alone.  

Propel, a PR management and AI tool, released a quarterly report that examined nearly half a million PR pitches and the responses to them. 



Of those 500,000 or so pitches, only 3.15% received a response of any kind. That’s just shy of 16,000. And that’s not pitches that received a positive response or resulted in coverage; that even includes a response of “no thanks.” 

Indeed, only 45.3% of pitches were even opened by journalists at all. So out of the gate, you have less than a coin flip’s chance of even having your pitch read. 

The odds are certainly not in your favor. 

We all know what’s to blame for this. Muck Rack reported that as of 2021, there were more than six PR pros for every journalist. And that gap has continued to increase as layoffs continue to hammer the media industry seemingly every week 

It’s a numbers game, and one that’s not in favor of PR professionals. 

But this isn’t all gloom and doom. Many pitched stories are picked up every day and PR pros and journalists team up to create great stories.

How to set the odds in your favor 

Of the pitches most likely to receive responses, those with short, pithy subject line performed best. We’re talking very short — just 1-5 words. Despite this success, most pitch subject lines have 6-9 words.  

This is an opportunity to pare down your language to its bare essentials to quickly grab the attention of a frazzled reporter at a glance. That applies for the body of your pitch too: The analysis found that the best pitch ledes clock in at 81-100 words long, with an additional 51-150 words for the body.  

So your entire pitch should, ideally, be no more than 250 words. That’s a daunting, but often fun, writing challenge.  

Speed is a hallmark of both journalism and PR, and we see that played out in pitch response too. If you’re going to receive a response, you’re likely to get it fast. Nearly half (48.6%) of pitches that get responses get them in the first hour after they’re sent. If you don’t get a response the day you send a pitch, chances are only about one-in-four that you will.  

Going from pitch to publication also tends to happen quickly. The analysis found that most stories (65.2%) are published within three days of pitch response. So when you get a bite on a pitch, be ready to move fast. If you’re offering an interview, be sure your subject has the flexibility to schedule.  

There are always exceptions, of course. Some journalists might respond to pitches in batches rather than as soon as they come in. Some stories can linger for weeks, months or even years after an initial pitch.  

These numbers are just averages and generalizations, and your particular journey with a journalist will vary. But they can give you a rule of thumb to help set expectations with clients and to plan follow-up at appropriate points in time.  

Do you agree with these findings? Do they resonate with your experience? Let us know in the comments.  


Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


2 Responses to “By the numbers: This is how many pitches actually get responses”

    Amanda Ponzar says:

    Really appreciate this outstanding PR Daily article sharing the ~3% pitch response rate (including “no thanks” pitches) which all executives should know. I feel deeply fortunate to get “no thanks” responses, media questions and even interviews and stories, even from top media outlets, so many times falling into that 3%. HOWEVER, it’s important that we talk about this. It’s becoming more and more difficult to earn media coverage, even for those of us out there painstakingly customizing pitches to a small group of reporters and building relationships over time. We’re doing it right. However, shrinking journalism staff, AI writing, trending/breaking news competition with wars, politics, celebs + click-baity headlines are all contributing to this challenge. Yes, I’ll keep pitching. But comms leaders need to incorporate the PESO model, paid publishing platforms, and other paid or “guaranteed” media strategies to raise awareness and get the word out.

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