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Posted on 12.15.2016

Journalism is changing. Here’s what it means for your business.

Perhaps “changing” is a bit of an understatement. The Pew Research Center describes the current state of affairs in journalism as, “nothing less than a reorganization of the industry itself, one that impacts the experiences of even those news consumers unaware of the tectonic shifts taking place.” 

A few of the markers of that reorganization highlighted in Pew’s 2016 State of the News Media report include:

  • In 2015, print newspapers saw circulation decline 7% (largest drop since 2010) and cut Journalism employment by 10%. In the past 20 years, the industry has hemorrhaged 20,000 jobs.
  • Cable, network and local TV saw revenue growth in 2015, but as many as one in seven Americans have “cut the cord” from cable or satellite TV subscriptions.
  • 62 percent of adults now get news on social media sites, a trend that is affecting news organizations’ choices and goals.

What do the shifts in the journalism industry mean for your business? A few things.

First, for those executives who grew up devoted to the daily newspaper, it’s time to adjust your thinking. The local daily or even the national papers of record (depending on your target market) may no longer be the home-run for a splashy story on your company. Online outlets have increasing credibility and influence – not to mention reach – that should not be ignored. And that goes for media relations and advertising opportunities. Pay attention to the outlets that matter most to your customers. And if you aren’t sure, ask an expert.

Unfortunately, the tightening media market may leave little or no room for your organization to deliver its message through traditional channels. It’s hard to get coverage on complicated healthcare topics when an outlet lays off its healthcare reporter — or to just cut through the noise when a dwindling number of journalists are bombarded with pitches. Sometimes it just makes more sense to pursue paid media or sponsored content – or consider other, non-media strategies.

Finally, a note about playing defense: As nearly all media outlets look to drive online traffic and social sharing, there can be a tendency toward provocative headlines and negative stories that publish online very quickly. Your business needs to be ready to field probing media inquiries with confidence and speed. That means having a media policy and protocol in place at all times, pre-emptively formulating an effective media strategy/ response when you are anticipating negative news, and not being afraid to push back when you even sense an unfair characterization that could harm your brand. As you know, the speed of online news sharing today makes it harder than ever to put the cat back in the bag.

Bottom line: It’s time to think differently about how and what types of media fit into your business strategy – and make sure you’re prepared to protect your brand.

Erin George is a Senior Account Supervisor at Lovell Communications. Connect with Erin at erin@lovell.com.

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