Dealing with the declining number of journalists

by Jonathan Haile

If you have ever plunged into a program such as Cision, you understand there are thousands of media outlets covering hundreds of topics. That said, you might have a hard time believing that the number of journalists working today is at its lowest since 1978, says Pew Research. With the number of journalists and media contacts on the decline, PR professionals need to maximize their media relations efforts.

Mickie Kennedy of eReleases speaks to the impact of declining number of journalists on PR pros, so I offer a few suggestions in response to his PR Daily article.

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1. Don’t forget about bloggers

While the number of journalists is declining, bloggers are enjoying their days as online influencers. As they build their audiences, build your relationships with them. Building these relationships can be as simple as sharing their content on social media sites, a suggestion from digital marketing analyst Brian Solis, or as involved as meeting up for coffee to discuss what topics they would be most interested in covering and how and when they would prefer to receive the pitches you want them to cover.

In the event that the blogger shares your story, be sure to acknowledge them on social media with a mention. For instance, “Check out what ‘xyz blogger’ had to say about our new product. Thanks for the shout out!”

2. Make sure your website has a “News” section

By this, I mean publish your own content. When you need to release information, post it on the news section or blog section on your website, and share that page on the social media platforms you utilize. Most large organizations have press sections on their sites, but if you’re working for a small company or with a small client as their representative and public relations council, you should recommend the client adds the feature to their site if they haven’t already done so.

3. Simply ask to whom you should send your pitch

In my Strategic Planning course, like all my peers, I was taught to pitch to one person at each media outlet. In my most recent internship, I was told to pitch to more than one contact at an outlet. Certainly, there are different schools of thought. Maybe the answer is calling the news desk and asking for suggestions about the best person to receive pitches for articles. Once you have that name, you’re set. Of course, if there are other contacts at the outlet who you know will be interested in your story, send it to them as well.

4. Leverage your relationships

You might be pitching to a journalist who hasn’t been receptive to your attempts in the past, but you know that a coworker has had success reaching that journalist, and they might be successful again in the future. Have the coworker pitch your story. They already have the rapport and it’s possible they can introduce you to the journalist, helping you build that relationship for yourself.

If you look around, you’ll find plenty of ways to deal with the declining number of journalists, but I hope I have provided you with four tools you can use in the meantime. Being a PR professional at a time when the number of journalists is decline is a challenge, but as with any challenge, there are exciting opportunities and different methods for getting your story or news to the masses.

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