In a recent PR Daily post, Mike Schneider wrote of the ‘4 ways journalism changes are affecting PR’. While based on the US experience, the piece has relevance for the Australian PR practitioner.
Scheider recounts that “nearly a quarter of jobs in the industry have vanished in less than 10 years” in the US. It’s a similar story in Australia.
The Australian Senate Select Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism released its findings in February 2018. The report stated:
“The committee was particularly struck by the number of journalist jobs that have been lost in the last few years, which some evidence suggested was approximately 3000–3200 positions between 2012 and late-2017. The MEAA estimated that this figure accounted for the loss of around one quarter of all journalist positions over the period.”
Against that backdrop of astounding job losses in journalism, Schneider says other changes to journalism are:
- The digital revolution has changed the way journalists find news.
- Journalists are responsible for building their own brands.
- PR pros (and the general public) have increased access to journalists through social media.
There’s a common thread to that list, of course: social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn and so on have enabled journalists to use social media to build their own brand, to inhabit online communities and find news and news sources, and to be more accessible to news tips from the public.
Again, we see all of this taking place in Australia.
For myself as a PR practitioner, one of the modern challenges of maintaining relationships with the media is keeping up with the volatility of that job market. The rounds covered by a mainstream newspaper today may not be assigned a specialist reporter tomorrow – say goodbye, in some cases, to environmental reporters, science reporters, local government reporters and more. It also means the in-house journalist with whom you have a good relationship, becomes a freelance journalist next week – or leaves the industry altogether.
The future of media relations – partially – is about having an agile media list; not relying too heavily on slow-moving media databases; and maintaining good relationships with key media in order to receive personal insights on where a journo may land next.
It’s disturbing to see this fragmentation in news media. Most PR practitioners I know are avid consumers of the news; they read widely and they support the news media. On my own part, I’m a paid subscriber wherever I can be and I have gone further, putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to funding new journalism models and initiatives.
Society needs a healthy, well-resourced and well-equipped fourth estate. And after all, when it comes to seeing our PR clients gain coverage, we want that to be accurate, factual and fair.
As Schneider states: “No matter how much both the journalism and PR industries change, one simple fact remains: these two industries need each other and will continue to work together and rely on one another for many decades to come”.