How PR professionals can adapt to shrinking newsrooms

How PR professionals can adapt to shrinking newsrooms

If you’ve been keeping up with media news, there have been a lot of changes at publications and online outlets. The shrinking newsroom is not a new trend, but it does seem like it’s been accelerated this year across national publications, like the Wall Street Journal, and even local outlets, like New Jersey’s Star-Ledger. If you’re like me, you’ve been solemnly reading the headlines, hoping every time that it’s the last one.

As PR professionals, we are accustomed to--and ready for--change. We adapt quickly and develop creative solutions to any challenge. The changes in newsroom sizes and structures requires creative thinking to meet our goals and successfully tell our companies’ stories. Here are six ways to do just that:

1. Avoid fluffy pitches. Credibility in media relations is more important than ever before, and reliability and trust is built on providing sources for reporters. As often as possible, make sure pitches are both relevant and necessary. This will help avoid a reporter marking your emails as spam.

2. Consider owned content. The strategic question of which channel is best for content is one that is of increasing importance because the chances of receiving media coverage is declining. If your company or client has news or an opinion on industry news, but it may not be “hard news,” consider self-publishing and sharing through social media. Owned content through social networks can be a powerful channel to reach a target audience.

3. Perfect writing skills. As PR professionals, we always have to “think like a journalist.” But now, we need to write like one too. Improving our writing skills not only helps with pitches and press releases, but also the owned content that companies and clients will want to produce. Brushing up on our AP style and creative writing will help both reporters and the companies we work for.

4. Rely on relationships rather than cold pitches. Media relations has transformed into a transaction-based approach instead of focusing on the most important aspect: building relationships. But as reporters are inundated with pitches, story ideas and pressure from editors and readers, all while their staff is reducing in numbers, they will rely on relationships more than ever. This is why it’s important to focus on building and growing media relationships: place more emphasis on long-term success than on short-term media hit.

5. Don’t discount the new digital outlets. Something I hear from clients sometimes is their lack of confidence in the credibility and reach of less traditional, digital-based outlets. My recommendation: don’t leave them out of your media strategy! They sometimes have more reach and influence among certain target audiences than traditional outlets. Plus, some of the most talented journalists are moving to these outlets. They’re worth exploring!

6. Don’t be afraid to do something different. There are so many new-ish tools that are available to people and companies to increase their visibility--GIFs, Periscope, Snapchat, Medium, etc. Now is the time to take risks, try new strategies and tactics, and explore new avenues for success.

Julia Sahin works in corporate communications for financial services at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She was the first to publish academic research about regulation, reputation, and banks. She plans on doing big things. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s. Connect with her on Twitter.

Photo: Businessman in front of cubicles via Shutterstock

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