mediadeathwatch (mediadeathwatch) wrote in publicrelations,

Some questions for PR practitioners

Hello all. I'm not a public relations professional, but I do work in marketing. I also have an interest in the decline of audience and influence of traditional media, and that's why I am posting this.

There is a lot of info available in the news about how audience erosion for, say, newspapers, magazines or network TV is affecting the world of advertising. I am curious if it is changing the way PR campaigns are executed. Specifically I was wondering if there has been a noticeable decline in the effectiveness of PR efforts that employ traditional news outlets? (I'd be interested in hearing about any anecdotal information, as well as any research that might have been done about this.)

Related to that, are there any trends in the world of PR along the lines of bypassing or decreasing the role the traditional media (e.g. word of mouth campaigns, relying less on news releases, etc.)

Thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to shed some light on this for me!
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Anecdotally from my tiny corner (the tech trades), I'd say there's big a big drop-off in PR pitch hit rates. I was just talking with an IBMer about this (I'm on the reporter side; she's a PR person) -- a few years ago, for any moderately significant news, they could line up prebriefs with a half-dozen publications, and we'd all race to have articles out as soon as the embargo expired. (For product announcements, companies usually prebrief under embargo.) Now, they're lucky to get 2-3 briefings, and it's anyone's guess when or if an article will run. Lots less feet on the ground than there used to be.
So it sounds like all the media downsizing that has happened over the past 5 or 6 years has taken a toll on the ability of publications to get articles out like they used to.

I wonder how much of that could also be attributed to a shrinking news hole. (Fewer ads = less space for editorial content = less opportunity for PR people to place stories.)
Isn't it the eternal question of perceiving media as the business organization? It have been centuries while media have learnt how to make money. However, does still exclusive stuff matter? Does media still strive for getting some news forst and only?
That's a question that bothers me as well. I have an experience of working in the third world countries where PR practice is still in the process of development. However, I have already got a strong assumption that traditional media doesn't work. Now it is not that easy to sell the story as well as there's no any evidence that people read newspapers and, moreover, they are affected by news makers. Gallup is not a good proof as it tells about "reach" category, not "opinion" one.
You raise an excellent point about the influence that the news outlets have on the audience that they do reach. There was a time in the U.S. when if Waler Cronkite said something on the Evening News, or if it appeared in a well-known news magazine like Time,a lot of Americans took it as gospel. These days we're much more skeptical of things we see, hear and read from the "mainstream media" - for a lot of reasons.
So, what kind of media is popular (=effective) in the US now?
In terms of reach, traditional media in the U.S. are generally declining or stagnant, as more people turn to the Internet for news and entertainment.

In terms of "trust" or the ability to shape public opinion, I don't think any media are as effective at that as they used to be. And while a lot of people get information online, there's sort of a built-in distrust of information from the Internet because it is so ofen a source of hoaxes, erroneous rumors and scams. But as far as which American media are the most effective in that regard, other people here could probably answer that better than I.