How to adapt to stay ahead of the changing media landscape
It’s no secret that media today is evolving faster than ever before. As the channels through which people consume and disseminate information increasingly move towards the digital, traditional print and broadcast media are scrambling to keep up – fighting for their lives as they try to boost their bottom line through their online content. This holds a number of implications for public relations professionals.
The 2012 State of the Media Report, recently released by Vocus, provides some surprising insights on how the media landscape has changed over the past year. Here are a few of the most interesting takeaways and rbb’s take on how to turn these challenges into opportunities; you can download the full report here.
BUSINESS MODEL CHANGES:
- More and more, newspapers and magazines are closing bureaus in favor of having their employees telecommute. In fact, about 20 bureaus were closed in 2011, including the Miami Herald’s Fort Lauderdale bureau. Like many industries turning towards telecommuting, reporters and editors can do their work from home or remotely, and it saves money. To stay competitive against these hurdles, PR professionals need to focus on building their media relationships now more than ever. rbb does this by making sure we stay up to date on reporters’ ever-changing beats and cultivate mutually-beneficial relationships with editors who know they can count on us to deliver a source quickly under heavy deadlines.
- As print subscriptions shrink, with readers turning to news sites to read for free, many newspapers and magazines are seeking ways to make money from their digital content. Paywalls are increasingly popular among publishers. The New York Times has had a paywall for some time, allowing only 10 free articles each month. The Wall Street Journal makes certain content available only to subscribers. However, in 2011, many small and mid-sized publications adopted paywalls as well. We bet you’ll see more in 2012. Here at rbb, over the last few years we’ve been closely watching the transition to heavier reliance on online content. Online content reaches a much wider audience and boosts search engine visibility. So when we’re creating a media strategy for a client, we weave multimedia and digital media tactics into the plan, and ensure we form good relationships with web editors to get them the content they need, when they need it.
- Beyond paywalls, some publications are dropping certain editions, including the Times-Standard of California which no longer prints a Monday edition. This creates a challenge for PR professionals in that there’s no longer as much room for our story. It’s helped us emphasize creative, timely story angles and to keep a finger on the pulse of breaking news when as it happens to deliver a source or statement before anyone else. rbb’s Social Media Policy encourages our employees to be active on social media to pick up news before the mainstream media can so we can react quickly to deliver story pitches and expert sources to key journalists.
- The growing Hispanic market is increasingly becoming a treasure trove for publishers. Many are creating content specifically geared towards Spanish-speaking and bilingual audiences. For instance, one of only several successful print magazine launches last year included Hispanic Retail 360. Further, several major TV networks are launching Spanish-language websites, and online video streamer Hulu has introduced Hulu Latino. Some local news sites are offering alternative sites in Spanish, just as the MiamiHerald.com does with ElNuevoHerald.com. This is good news for us here at rbb, where we’re lucky to have so many bilingual professionals on staff. As Spanish-language media increases, we have more opportunities to place stories reaching this important demographic.
- In 2011, blog growth was mostly in consumer-oriented blogs, with topics including domestic life, parenting, and cooking. However, industry and trade blogs came in second – evidence that more and more professionals are seeing how an active blog about their area of expertise can enhance their reputation. With the rise of the blogger as journalist, PR firms would be smart have a blogger relations policy in place (as rbb does) and nurture relationships like we do with traditional media reps. However, blogger outreach is not a panacea for every campaign without a media leg to stand on. We employ it when it makes sense.
- Social media has created a new generation of citizen journalists, who can break news faster than any traditional journalists. Social media users can also provide news from areas inaccessible to foreign journalists, such as during the uprisings in Iran and now Syria. In fact, many traditional media professionals use Twitter to stay abreast of breaking news and find sources. That’s why our media relations professionals get involved with social media to stay informed too.
To put the revolution occurring in the media in perspective, consider that the New York Times now has more Twitter followers than print subscribers. (And as a PR professional who wants to stay in the know, I’m one of them!) It’s an exciting time for media and public relations professionals as we watch traditional media integrate with digital and social media – bringing challenges that rbb works to turn into opportunities.
So, what are your predictions for the media in the coming year? How will you navigate the rapidly-changing media market? We’d love to hear your feedback.