How has the media landscape changed in recent years?
Newsrooms have downsized tremendously, and now journalists are required to cover a handful of beats as opposed to just one or two as they did in the past.
Now, there are fewer working journalists. Journalists are now moving to the other side of the table to become PR professionals. With budget cuts, layoffs and downsizing, media outlets have succumbed to paid features, in turn making less space for earned coverage. This makes a public relations professional’s job even more challenging, especially if clients are adamant about securing earned coverage.
With the time and energy it takes to secure coverage, it’s become a strong option to pay for a feature now so the scope and voice of the article can be controlled from the client’s perspective.
However, with social media and online publishing rising to prominence in the last decade, it’s balanced out the scarcity of journalists. In the past, the public relied on journalism and traditional media to shape their worldview, then it became bloggers who did that, and now we consume content from “influencers” on social media.
In the future, I see the trend of “influencers” evolving into “thought leaders,” meaning their ideas and opinions are represented through many years of experience and likely an educational background in their respective industries. Their professional success would serve as a proof point for the validity of their opinions. I’ve also noticed an emphasis on social impact in PR in the last few years. It’s a growing trend for brands to align their messaging to support a cause, whether it be: gender parity, poverty alleviation, sustainability or mental health advocacy. These are all issues that affect individuals and society on a holistic level and with that, it becomes relatable to everybody. The demand for socially-conscious companies, and in turn, “impact PR” is backed by data.
“Companies with a high sense of purpose have a 175% increase in valuation in the last 12 years,” compared to a median growth rate of 85%. — Kantar Consulting, 2020
Therefore, PR agencies need to adapt to both the media landscape and the demand for social impact so they can effectively communicate for socially-conscious companies since the future of business is headed in that direction.