The New Reality for Today’s Media and How It Affects Public Relations

The times are a changing. Reporters today don't look or work like the reporters of yesterday.
The times are a changing. Reporters today don’t look or work like the reporters of yesterday.

When I was a kid the stereotypical image of a reporter was a rugged, adventure seeking male who would jot ideas in a pocket notebook while spending downtime at the neighborhood bar.  In between writing and whiskey breaks the reporter always would find themselves in the middle of some incredible mystery that included romance and love.  I was pretty sure that being a reporter was by far the coolest job in the world – primarily because it appeared that they didn’t work all that much.

Oh my how times have changed. Today’s media professional works an incredible schedule for less money than ever before.

Why you might ask?

Here’s the new reality for media: The proliferation of content (internet, TV, cable, blogs, newsmags, social media channels, et al) means today’s media is competing for eyeballs and the ability to monetize their properties with ad revenue.

And the cold hard truth: The success of today’s media professional, i.e journalist, blogger, TV reporter is tied to page views, consumer’s time on their site, and number of shares on social channels.

Peter King, on of my favorite sports journalists, who writes for recently commented on this shift in an article he wrote commemorating his 25th anniversary at SI.

You can read his full article HERE.  Here is his take on how he’s seen the profession of journalism change:

“The media … what a difference a generation makes. I traveled in the early ’90s with a large notebook, a few pens and a small computer that most often stayed at the hotel. I’d take notes at a game, do interviews post-game, and go back to the hotel and write my piece for the magazine. When that was done, so was I for the week. The End. Now: I use a smart phone, a tablet and a laptop, daily. I phone, I tweet, I skype, I research the ’net. I do talk shows. I do video chats. The other day I did something called a Google+ hangout with Brandin Cooks and A.J. McCarron. In a 2014 game week, I’ll get up Sunday morning, try to polish off 2,500 early words for my Monday Morning Quarterback column for The MMQB. Then I’ll go to NBC to watch games, and I’ll interview some players and coaches by phone, and then the NBC pre-game show comes on and I’ll have a little segment on it, and then I’ll report whatever needs to be reported. Then I’ll go home to my Manhattan apartment and finish my Monday column, and then go in the office to do some video work, and the multimedia thing will start all over again. Back in the day you prayed something you found out on a Friday would hold until it got to peoples’ mailboxes six days later. Now that thing you found out will probably be on the internet in six minutes by someone else if you don’t rush to get it up first.”

What Peter King is saying both literally and in the subtext is the Media Has Changed.

  • There are fewer paid journalists than ever before.
  • We live in an era of a 24/7 news cycle which requires media outlets generate more news to fill the pipeline.
  • Journalists are measured and compensated on METRICS.  These metrics include page views, social shares, and time a person spends on the site.
  • Sites make money via advertising. Advertisers pay more if eyeballs stay on a site longer.
  • Social Media is the CORE source of feedback and measurement.
  • Journalists need help aka the Public Relations professional

Not only has the journalist and the news cycle changed but so has the preferred format of viewers:


Photo essays and audio slideshows are becoming the preferred tools for web stories. They are preferred by both the journalists and the viewers.

The statistics are clear:

So what does all this mean for public relations? Well, it’s good news.  The media needs us more than ever before.

There is never enough time or resources on the media side to possibly cover everything that needs to be covered. They are looking for great content to share with their readers.

But this is an important part to remember: It’s THEIR READERS.

It’s the job of the public relations pro to come with with stories and angles that will work for a media outlet’s readers. Ask yourself: would I spend time reading or watching this?  Would I share this on twitter after viewing?

If the answer is anything but a resounding “Yes!” go back to the drawing board and come up with a more compelling angle.

Today’s media certainly has changed but one adage has always held true: Quality content trumps everything else. If you have great content and stories to share with the media they will be happy to share it with their audience.

What’s your experience with today’s ever evolving media? Join the discussion and leave your comments below.

Lastly, please feel free to contact us directly.  You can always send us a message via our contact form or email me directly at: mgutman at wildstory dot com

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up next:

Social Media Management: Twitter Metrics

When developing a comprehensive social media strategy, coming up with posting themes and a social media calendar is just half of the work.  The other critical piece of a social media strategy is to track your social media successes once your social media plan has launched.  It’s one thing to develop a strategy but social media management


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