Shrinking newsrooms and increased challenges of communicators

media

Covid19 and its extended lockdown have impacted businesses like never before but for our closest stakeholders – the media, the impact has been more severe. Newsrooms across media houses have witnessed a series of layoffs and retrenchments. According to media experts, they have never seen such mass-scale layoffs in Indian media history before. With larger networks rolling back and consolidation across all media businesses, it is estimated that over 2000 journalists nationwide may have lost their jobs. Apart from layoffs, the industry has not heard of any major news on new hiring. The shrinking newsroom has added to the strain and workload of journalists, who though have retained their jobs but are living in anxiety of the unknown future.

These are extraordinary times for everyone, journalists and public relations practitioners, both trying to adjust to new realities. Here are 5 things that you as a PR practitioner can do, to not only remain afloat but also help your clients stay visible until we all adjust to the new normal.

  1. Be more compassionate in your media relations efforts – Most journalists are working from home, juggling between their household chores and reporting responsibilities. They are expected to cover more than they were otherwise doing in normal times. Fear of unknown and emotions will be at an all-time high. Hence when you contact a journalist for your story, please be sure you have a valid reason for doing so. You have researched well, understood the working of the publication and that of the journalist and know that your story is aligned. Don’t call at odd hours, and pester them unnecessarily.
  2. Bloggers and influencers are more important than ever – There are many influential bloggers and experts who cover the domain you are working on, reach out to them with similar protocols as traditional media. Offer interactions and information they would seek and help them reach out to other industry leaders if they are looking at a broader industry story. Many ex-journalists have started their news portals and blogs, support them as you would do to larger publications.
  3. Local media can be your saviour – it is not necessary that you need national media coverage for all your stories, sometimes local regional publications and media outlets help you connect with your stakeholders in a much better manner. Reach out to them and try working out on stories that would add value to their readership. Urging your clients helping them with advertisements support will only lend the much-required support in such trying times.
  4. Brand journalism is coming off age – Have a look at your media properties, you would realize that you have been treating them as your foster children. Invest in them, hire in-house writers, better still, hire journalists who have been let go. Brand journalism is now a serious business. Started by McDonald’s in 2003, in the 2020 Covid19 era, it has evolved into a major source of communication between brands and their stakeholders. Harness it and you will be surprised by the results. The shrinking newsroom will welcome contributions that meet all journalistic criteria.
  5. Invest money in promoting in your content – organic reach on social media is kind of a misnomer, but if you have quality content and not boosting it on social media then you are losing out on the opportunity to reach out to your target audience directly, that too when they are looking for the kind of content you are producing.

Looking forward to hearing from you in case you have thought of some alternate strategies to tide over the Covid19 era. Please share in the comments below.

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