By Lisa Hester, Senior Account Manager
As the number of media representatives drops, PR pros must find creative ways to position their clients to gain visibility.
We already know it to be true, but here it is in black and white. From 2008 to 2018, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 25 percent, according to a Pew Research Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics survey data. In 2008, about 114,000 reporters, editors, photographers and videographers worked in newspaper, radio, broadcast and cable television and “other information services” (the best match for digital-native news publishers). By 2018, that number had declined to about 86,000, a loss of about 28,000 jobs.
No surprise, newspapers were hardest hit. The number of newspaper newsroom employees dropped by 47 percent between 2008 and 2018, from about 71,000 workers to 38,000. Radio broadcasting was next with a decrease of 26 percent of newsroom staff. Broadcast and cable television jobs remained stable.
The only group that experienced an increase during this same period was digital-native newsroom employees, which grew by 82 percent, from about 7,400 workers to about 13,500. While this growth was statistically dramatic, we’re still talking just 13,500 jobs total.
But newspapers, struggling to remain a viable source of news, are finding ways to stay afloat. Of recent note, New Media Investment Group, which owns GateHouse Media acquired Gannett, which operates 100 daily and 1,000 weekly newspapers in the U.S. states and abroad, including USA Today. GateHouse Media operates in 612 markets across the U.S. Just before the acquisition, it let a sizable number of newsroom staff go.
The speculation is that other newspaper giants will likely follow suit and combine.
So how does a PR pro get the attention of too few journalists covering more news than ever with fewer resources? Here are a few recommendations.
* Some basics never change. If you choose to pitch the media on a story, always start with the “what’s in it for me” approach, with the “me” being the news outlet’s readers/listeners. Your story must address on a personal level why a reader/listener should care. And make this a strong and compelling lead, don’t bury it. If you can’t come up with this crucial element, it’s probably not news. And given that reporters’ time is at a premium, they will not stop to dig for this information if not readily available.
* Package your pitch to include visuals. Given the reduction in staff at media outlets, do all you can to make the reporter’s life easier. By including visuals that a thin staff likely doesn’t have the time to create, you are helping them do their job. They like this.
* Be sure your PR plan includes a good mix of paid, owned and earned media. (see my blog post of May 15, 2018) Paid media is media coverage for which a company pays for its placement. Earned media is that which is written by a reporter and placed within the media outlet at the staff’s discretion. A healthy combination of each will ensure the visibility your client seeks. Owned media includes a company’s social sites, including its Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram account, blog, LinkedIn page, newsletters and emails.
Further, according to Ragan’s PR Daily, create for your client an online newsroom. You don’t have to wait for someone else to tell your story, share it yourself. Hire a former journalist or editor to find stories from your client and use the company’s website to highlight the good work it does.
* Thought leadership. Position your client’s leaders as experts in the industry. Monitor stories trending in your client’s industry(s), and offer to key reporters their perspective, whether they support or refute what others are saying on the topic.
The media team at Rountree Group has been building solid relationships with the media for more than three decades and actively strategizes to gain visibility for our clients in myriad ways. Let’s talk about developing a PR plan that’s right for you. Contact Don Rountree at 770-645-4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.