When Traditional Media Won’t Cover Your Stories

By Brian Chandler, APR, President, Commonwealth Public Relations

Is Traditional Media Dead?

It’s a question that many PR people are asking these days, so here are some insights into what I have personally experienced during my day-to-day practice in public relations.

My short answer to the question is “no,” at least for now, and here’s why.

Traditional media is changing and adapting to social media and Web 2.0, just like the rest of us. Major corporations, nonprofits, small business and others are all working hard to figure out what works best to drive profit through the Internet. This diversification is allowing traditional media to continue much of what they have always done, but unfortunately it took a competitive setback to get their attention.

Samuel Parent writes in Social Media Today, “Traditional media are not dead — not yet, and not for a while at least. They’re not all as strong as they’ve once been, but they still occupy an important place in the media landscape.”

The way I see it is people still like to listen to the radio, watch TV news and read magazines. Many are now accessing this content online and the numbers doing so have increased. But before we go any further, please notice that I didn’t mention newspapers as a medium that is surviving.

What sparked my interest in writing this blog relates to an experience I had this month with two daily newspapers. Within a week, I heard reporters tell me that because of staff cuts, reduced space in the paper, and other factors, they just don’t have the resources to cover stories. I was shocked to hear one reporter tell me that even if the news we are pitching is worthy of a story, they sometimes just don’t have the staff to cover it and won’t.

As a former daily newspaper reporter and someone who still loves to read his morning paper while enjoying a cup of coffee, this is scary. When a news outlet takes such a hit that they can’t even cover newsworthy stories and admit it, death is evident.

It’s no doubt that newspapers are hurting. Now, we as PR practitioners have to adapt to this trend because our clients are still asking for coverage in not only the new forms of media, but traditional.

The time has come for us to educate our clients on the benefits of establishing their presence via new media sources and traditional media outlets. This combination will lead your clients to better understand where they need to be and the importance of online brand reputation management. This approach will go a lot further than begging a reporter to cover their news release.


Michelle C. King

Brian — I agree and I also think it demonstrates the need for companies to engage more in content marketing / develop their own media platforms. This doesn’t mean they should stop targeting traditional and social media, but when the media won’t cover their stories, they can still reach their target audiences with relevant, useful information by developing content-rich websites, newsletters, blogs, etc. Research is showing that people today don’t dismiss content just because it comes from a company (as long as it is clear where the information is coming from — and thus the bias is transparently declared). I think PR professionals are perfectly suited to be the leaders in content marketing due to our writing skills and sense of what makes news. — Michelle


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