Every time you log into a media management and alert site the line of dead/suspended titles (with “no plans for resurrection”) grows longer and longer. It’s particularly heart-breaking for me, because I know first-hand how much work it takes to compile a quality magazine every month. Many talented journalists and editors have been made redundant many times over in a single year, and it’s getting worse.
Pitching and media placement is a big part of what public relations professionals do. However, many clients (and even industry professionals) see PR as a means of having your cake and eating it too: garnering free publicity in order to skip advertising altogether. Many agencies still measure success in terms of AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency), i.e. how much the client would have paid for the space in the publication or on the website if they decided to pay for ad space instead of a PR release.
Supporting Media Supports Your Clients
The downside of this approach is that PR is running into a serious supply issue. There are simply far fewer reputable, quality publications that can support our goals. Most journalists are already far too overloaded (or underpaid) to travel to events or interviews, no matter how much swag you dangle in front of them. It doesn’t help the industry, and it doesn’t help the clients reach their goals.
As public relations professionals, we need to start supporting the media industry. There are a few ways of doing this:
- Support the media industry through paid partnerships wherever possible. Most media houses are willing to work with you and your client’s budget. If paid partnerships aren’t on the cards, consider paid subscriptions. Many PR agencies don’t even buy the newspapers or magazines.
- Create a culture at work that is supportive and respectful of the media. Share and amplify the content and contributions of your favourite publications and pass on leads.
- Get to know the publications you are pitching to intimately. Don’t do mass mailers, don’t pitch irrelevant content and don’t promise advertising money down the line if you can’t deliver.
- If a publication or site can offer good value to your clients, become a lobbyist for them. Public relations is all about relationships; good relationships are give and take.
There are several tongue-in-cheek articles that poke fun at the sometimes-contentious relationship between public relations and the media. Sometimes these jabs are justified. But as the economy becomes even more restricted, we need to start working together and creating a mutually beneficial relationship – or PR will face a serious supply problem.