How to Be Heard When There Are More PR Pros Than Journalists

Reporters and editors are being laid off, publications are closing, and journalists are crossing over into PR. That’s the world we live in today.

It’s been reported that PR professionals currently outnumber journalists four to one, a gap twice as wide as it was in 1980. With this enormous gap between PR pros and journalists, it’s even harder for PR pros to get the story out.

That said, even though there are fewer and fewer journalists, there are still ways to ensure your story gets out there.

journalistIt may sound too obvious, but the best way to be included in a story is to do your homework and read the news before you pitch. Even the most compelling story idea will not get a fair shot if that story falls outside of the journalist’s beat or areas of interest.

Here at Sterling, we’ve had great success inserting our clients into news cycles by pitching story ideas that dovetail with, or build on, recent stories from targeted reporters. For instance, we were able to get our client Vormetric into USA Today by offering sidebar commentary on a story about consumer privacy expectations in the post-Snowden era.

Another way to work around the issue of a shrinking media pool is to create your own content; many short-staffed outlets are grateful for well-written content that is on-topic. Earlier this month, we drafted a contributed article for our client Medallia that resulted in this great coverage in International Banker. Contributed content is also a great way to showcase thought leadership because the piece can be crafted to position the article’s author as an industry expert.

Regardless of how many professional reporters remain employed at media outlets, these relationships will continue to be incredibly important to any comprehensive PR program. To become and remain a trusted source, you have to make the journalist’s job easier, not harder. The best way to do that is to make sure you keep your messages concise, relevant and timely, and avoid the pitfall of blatant self-promotion. Journalists have a job to do, but it is NOT to shill anyone’s product or service. (Enlist your customers to sing your praises instead. Media receptivity will be far better.)