Last week, Strategy + Business published an article titled, “What a Declining Business Media Means to CEOs.”
While this article was written for CEO’s, I think it’s important to understand what this means for PR professionals. The declining business media is not news to the PR industry, but as we come to terms with this change, we need to be smart on how we can help.
Basically the article argues that as cost cutting narrows the field of business journalism, it has become more difficult to put out a corporate story. And for the journalists at the remaining business publications, they are increasingly unable to offer insightful business coverage. The author goes on to say that there are basically three consequences for business decision makers: business coverage could become more negative toward profit and enterprise than it is today, corporate decision makers have less of a platform to display their company’s strategy and corporate leaders now have fewer opportunities to learn from one another’s experience, or even to know what’s going on in their regions and industries. The article offers suggestions for CEO’s, but I would like to offer a few tips to help PR professionals be effective as possible in this changing landscape.
1 – Continue to make it easy for journalists. We know that as PR professionals we need to offer journalists (especially young, inexperienced ones) all the facts. We need to build the story for them, and make it as easy as possible. Not only do we need to continue doing that, but we need to take it one step further and facilitate from A to Z. If they aren’t going to ask the challenging questions, let’s address them upfront for them. If we know others are going to criticize the company, then lets offer an alternative POV from a third-party. We need to help journalists collect all the facts so that they are able to write well-balanced, insightful stories.
2 – Don’t give up on traditional media. Do not let your CEO give up because he doesn’t understand Twitter. While the business media landscape is definitely getting more challenging and the use of social media mediums are increasing, it is not the death of business media. In this changing environment, there are still opportunities to meet with business reporters and have your story told. We need to work with senior executives to help them tell their story in a way that is relevant to a business media audience and offers a fresh perspective.
3 – Capitalize on existing communications platforms where you control the message. For example, earnings calls. If you know you will already have the attention of a group of reporters, use that time to explain how your company’s performance impacts the industry and world. Work with the CFO or CEO to tell journalists something they don’t already know or can’t get from the press release.
In this declining business media environment, we shouldn’t forget that some of the core, proven media relations tactics can still work, if executed well. However, have the conversation with your CEO and other senior executives sooner rather than later, so they are educated on what is happening. Many of them may not want to believe it or hear it. Let them know it’s a change they need to embrace but that there are ways to work together to address the challenges ahead.