Much has been written about the changing media landscape this past year, from mergers and acquisitions to layoffs, closings, the rise of the newsletter and podcast and the continued fall of traditional media. There is considerable speculation about who will be filling primetime news slots at the three major news cable channels and everyone is developing a streaming channel.
Less has been written about the impact on media relations by public relations practitioners on behalf of our clients. It is an area that has undergone considerable change in recent years, with many agencies restructuring their service offerings to place greater emphasis on social media, marcomm and advertising. However, from a consumer perspective, media relations continue to remain a valuable component. Yes, people, especially Millennials and GenZ, still look to influencers for recommendations even though social media in general has become more suspect. But without earned media coverage, most of those recommendations would never be amplified into trends or pop culture zeitgeist moments.
Bandwidth is an issue for everyone. Trade and business journalists are compelled to cover breaking news, and have less time to do thoughtful reporting regardless of the subject unless they are beat reporters covering a major company. From a PR perspective, this means a greater reliance on the use of exclusives to ensure one good story and even that often requires several days to secure. For announcements that are directed to a targeted group of outlets, the time necessary to pre-brief under embargo has also stretched because of reporters’ demanding schedules.
On the consumer side, the challenge in the world of entertainment is two fold. The amount of content being released across all platforms has exploded, compounded by short staffed reporting/critics teams who can barely keep up. Securing a review is no longer a given and placing an exclusive clip is largely determined by the anticipated click through rate. If it isn’t an easy fit, a major celebrity or the story is too complicated, the challenges multiply.
Setting expectations for anticipated coverage is an important element of client service; however, it’s getting harder to judge. Six months ago a billion dollar valuation was big news, now it takes Ten Billion. Inflation of a different order.
Moving forward it will be even more important to align results with company or campaign goals. One good story in the right publication is worth more than several in less relevant outlets. On the other hand, coverage in a series of highly targeted niche outlets can add up to the impact of one major hit. lt just takes more work.
Ultimately it’s about crafting a compelling story and being both creative and strategic about delivering it.