Public Relations … Where have all the reporters gone?

Public Relations … Where have all the reporters gone?

It may seem obvious that the key to being able to disseminate PR effectively is to actually have someone on the receiving end say they will publish or air your story for you. Yes folks, outside of the blogosphere and twitterdom, it is still Freedom of the Press, for those that own the presses or airwaves as the case may be.

The debilitating economy coupled with the explosive growth of the aforementioned online, viral and social means to propagate news and information, have had a crippling effect on the media.

According to a report by Vocus Media Research Group, about 293 newspapers ceased operation in 2009. Add to that a total of 1,126 magazines that printed their last issues last year, eight of which had circulations of 1 million or more.

Broadcast faired no better, with radio station revenue down as much as 20% from the previous year; over 10,000 people have lost their jobs. Television station bankruptcies are also up, causing even further layoffs and closings.

So what is a PR professional or corporate communication specialist to do? It has long been a practice in the communication field to build and nurture relationships in the media. The ability to leverage that relationship to obtain the needed “ink” when the time comes has been the order of the day for decades. What happens when your trusted confidant is laid off, let go, takes a buy-out or his or her media outlet just ceases to exist?

Well, first and foremost, don’t lose contact. In this day and age of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter it is easy to stay in touch. Make sure you offer to help. If your network is vast and you can suggest other media opportunities for your contact, do so. My 20 years in media tells me that most will land in another media role somewhere anyway. But as that landscape changes with more emphasis on digital, your relationship with them may prove to be even more beneficial in their new position.

Stories are being told across multiple platforms today. Communicating by print alone is a thing of the past. Video, vimeo, audio, blogs, online publications and even tweets are now tools for the PR professional.  As our old friends from print and broadcast repurpose themselves for the digital world, they will still be looking to you to supply them with an occasional story, corporate news brief or business communication.

Who knows what the “media” will look like next year or next decade, but it goes without saying that humans consume information at alarming rates these days. The savvy PR or communications professional will adapt and disseminate that information to a potentially shrinking total number of outlets by utilizing the most effective format for the job. Stay in touch with your contacts, ask them what they want and how they want it and continue to be a resource for them. Remember … the “R” in PR stands for RELATIONS.

Paul Evans is the President and CMO of Evans Media Group, a boutique agency located in Overland Park, KS that specializes in traditional marketing, social media marketing, online marketing, and public relations.

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  1. Patrick Garmoe

    As a former (laid off) reporter now handling primarily social media and marketing for a web analytics company, I would say now is the time to use social media to forge new alliances with remaining reporters, in addition to keeping in touch with former ones. I’ve gotten our company into five local news segments and a news story in our local newspaper, from both keeping in touch with former newspaper colleagues and using Twitter to forge new relationships. With as busy as reporters are now, thanks to fewer resources, top of mind positioning can get you a lot further than it used to.