How the Current State of Media is Transforming PR Strategy

What Every Communications Leader Needs to Know to Make the Shift

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The media today finds itself in an unusual position. It isn’t solely reporting the news; it is the news. Even journalists – beacons of truth-telling – acknowledge their fall. Public trust in the media is eroding: More than 90% believe the media is somewhat or much less trusted than it was three years ago. And it’s affecting everything – including PR strategy.

Why It's Happening

Numerous triggers have come together to upend the media world as we know it.

Trigger 1

The rise of fake news.

The deliberate making up of news stories to fool or entertain is nothing new. But social media is now fueling the fire, making it easier than ever for fake news to spread and stick around. Two-in-three U.S. adults (64 percent) say fabricated news stories cause a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events.

Trigger 2

The monopoly of political coverage.

Our headlines have been hacked. The presidential election is over, but politics still dominate the U.S. news cycle, making it nearly impossible for stories without a political slant to be heard. Some publications, such as The New York Times, now allocate budget ($5 million!) solely for coverage of President Trump and his administration.

Trigger 3

Blurring lines between news and opinion.

This isn't a new phenomenon, but it is growing. Media is under pressure to "break the news" while also expected to play a lead role in informing public opinion. The proliferation of social media isn't helping, essentially giving everyone a voice to influence and drive what's news – making it harder for viewers and "readers" to distinguish between hard facts and commentary.

Trigger 4

The continued proliferation and power of social media.

Half of Americans (51%) get their news from social media rather than from more traditional media sources.

As truth and news continue to collide, credibility – of journalism, of brands, of individual thought leaders – is called into question. It’s an imperfect storm. Some of us won’t weather it well, or at all.

How It's Impacting Your Brand

The roles of PR strategy and marketing are changing.

As communicators, we’ve long leveraged

the media to share our stories.

We relied on the media to validate our messages, spread our ideas, help make our voices heard; to boost our credibility and strengthen our reputation. That era is over. Today, we’re struggling to break through via media. And those who do are finding the results alone provide minimal ROI.

But this is still our number one job: to build trust. That’s not going to change; how we do it is. Consider it an opportunity.

It’s time to disrupt how we think about and approach the value of media and which outlets matter, the meaning of third-party credibility and who can offer it, and the weight of a truly diversified mix of communications and marketing tactics.

While always an essential element of any “go to market” approach, PR strategy must be front and center.

The importance and influence of trust, credibility and reputation will never be greater than in the next 5-10 years. How we “earn” them, however, is evolving.

What You Need to Do About it

Media relations still matters as part of a PR strategy.

It’s no longer the star performer, but media relations probably should still play a supporting role in sharing your stories. These three approaches to securing coverage can continue to deliver meaningful results.


Target niche outlets

Deprioritize mainstream media. Media coverage isn't a numbers game; it's all about impact. Go vertical. What market segment has real potential to grow your business? Who are your true decision makers and where do they get their news?

Don't underestimate hyper-local media

How does your product or service affect a certain region or community? Not only do you have less competition for prime real estate with local papers and news sites, but remember: national media still gets a significant percentage of its stories from local sources.

Create longform, well-researched articles

Sure, our attention spans are shorter than ever. Snackable content - blogs, infographics, Tweets – is in vogue. But we still crave good, substantive writing with the power to linger in our minds long after we've closed the screen.
Does Media Still Matter? How to Shift Your PR Strategy as the Media Landscape Morphs
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Shift Your Media Mindset

No matter your approach, media relations on its own will not generate meaningful value for your brand. But there are other effective ways to shape and share your brand’s stories. As the media landscape continues to morph, shifting your PR strategy is imperative. Here’s how to do it.