A colleague recently said to me that the print media industry is in the midst of a revolution as reporters and editors take sides: hardcopy v. online. This maelstrom reached great heights in 2009 and, as the Vocus State of the Media Report predicted, promises to ensue into 2010 as debates over paywalls, e-readers and other digital applications try to replace revenue that the traditional business model is no longer earning.
The New York Times threw its metaphorical hat down when it recently announced it would charge for content in 2011 with a metered system allowing readers to view a certain amount of content for free before the paywall would go into effect. The impact of the paywall may mean less visibility for PR campaigns, as readers drop off when asked to pay for content. However, niche products may thrive in a paywall model as the content tends to be more exclusive.
Recent headlines refer to “tablet wars” as the different e-readers vie to be the top platform. The debut of the Apple tablet (iPad) has analysts wondering if perhaps competition between e-readers may not help deliver the newspaper and magazine from extinction. The state of the media is in turmoil, but it’s an exciting time as new technologies are introduced and merged to lure readers and advertisers into throwing their dollars at newspapers and magazines.
Meanwhile, television stations around the country are increasingly pooling resources and partnering up with radio stations in order to stretch resources in the midst of a recession. Radio formats changed to reach audiences that are still listening, while iPods dominate the younger generation. A meeting of minds occurred in 2009 when iPod and FM merged, which allowed radio to keep its reputation as a constant survivor.
It was truly a year for rebranding, and the media will continue to do so well into 2010 as it continually evolves into increasingly digital formats. While traditionalists cling to print products, online dominates. But a working, sustainable model for online newspapers and magazines still has yet to be invented. So while the battle wages on, PR professionals should keep up with journalists on the move and maintain relationships. Be flexible. A journalist may one day report for a newspaper and the next be editing an online news site — being comfortable with both mediums and their inner workings can foster success for the PR practitioner.
Adding life and color to a pitch is essential, especially in a multi-platform world. When pitching print or broadcast entities, go above and beyond by providing graphics or video as complimentary material.
It’s important for PR professionals to send news material that fits the journalist’s specific subjects of coverage, particularly now when newsroom staffs are at an all-time low — they just don’t have the time to sift through unwanted press material. Additionally, social media has reached great heights in the media world; a PR professional should embrace it. Utilizing the tools that are now available may attract the media’s attention to a PR campaign.
There was loss in 2009, but there is much to be gained in 2010 as kinks are worked out and the success of various business models are weighed and measured. And while newsrooms are asked to do more with less, PR professionals can aid the media by providing timely and relevant news with a unique angle. This in turn fosters better relationships in an ever-changing media landscape.
Katrina M. Mendolera, editor in chief, inVocus, has written stories and lent editorial support to inVocus since its creation, a blog that provides news and data updates by the Media Research Team at Vocus. Before joining the Vocus research team as a senior media researcher in 2007, Katrina worked in daily and weekly newspapers and covered Indigenous cultures across the globe from a small office in Cambridge, Mass. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.