Vocus White Paper
Staying Ahead of the Changing Media Landscape:
Rebuilding for the New Realities
Vocus White Paper 1
Staying Ahead of the Changing Media Landscape: Rebuilding
for the New Realities
As a Public Relations professional, it is your job to be an expert on the inner-workings of the media and use that knowledge
to find every opportunity to get your organization covered. Today, public relations professionals are being challenged to
keep up amidst headlines of layoffs and changes in the media. The recent newsroom instability across the country has many
media lists in disarray as reporters leave publications and current media relationships are broken, leaving fewer of your
target reporters remaining.
Now, more than ever, it is important to rediscover the basics of public relations and establish new relationships with the me-
dia. However, the constant flux of today’s media relations pose many questions for PR professionals. How do I keep track of
the changes? How can I build relationships to increase my chance of coverage with the decrease in traditional media? How
can I target my news for the appropriate media and build strong relationships with the press?
This paper will examine the tools and tactics necessary to stay ahead of the changing media landscape and successfully
build relationships that will move your PR strategy forward.
Keep up with the Media Changes
“With staff changes and reductions across the media industry, even a blog post can be too time-consuming a way to
announce who is in and out of a job.”- New York Times
Traditional media are being impacted by the shift in news consumption causing many publications to move online and cut
staff. With a continuous stream of headlines announcing changes and reductions to staff, new formats for publications,
outlets ceasing production altogether and the latest rumors, it is difficult to keep up with your current media targets.
A number of resources and services are available to help PR professionals keep up with the constant flow of information.
Social media sites, particularly Twitter, can offer insight into the newsroom changes. Many groups have begun posting
general headlines and announcements regarding media moves to help PR professionals keep up with the changes that are
taking place. By following these users, you can stay ahead and research any announcements that may affect your PR pro-
In addition to reporting on trends in the industry, PR publications also cover the changes in the media as they affect PR.
Subscribe to their newsletters and read up on the changes. While not always as immediate as some of the social media
tools, the updates will keep you current on the news from the media.
Impacting PR Professionals
As the media changes, so does the PR industry. With the media constantly shifting, you face new challenges to creating a
successful media relations programs. Many professionals are discovering that they need to completely rebuild their media
relations programs to take into account the new media landscape.
Staying up to speed on the changes takes a great deal of time, making it difficult to focus on more strategic work. The
majority of your effort is being spent simply on keeping your media list current.Staff changes can make it more difficult to get
the results to which you have grown accustomed. In some cases reporters are no longer at the publication and in others they
have simply stopped covering your industry.
In addition to the changes in traditional newsrooms, you need to incorporate new online publications and social media sites
into your plan. These sites are growing rapidly as well, creating more challenges for your media relations programs.
PR professionals need to rethink their strategies and rebuild their programs.
Leverage Today’s PR Technology
While the turmoil of the newsrooms may have you spinning, today’s technology can not only help you keep up but gain an
advantage in garnering coverage.
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Sorting through the information from social media sites and industry newsletters will serve as an excellent basis for you to
understand where changes are occurring—but this is just the first step. A PR management systems is a great tool for you
to get more specific information on your target reporters. Some of the industry’s leading media databases have dedicated
research teams that track and update the information as it happens, providing you up-to-the minute information on your
specific targets. Rather than scouring the Internet and other sources to find out about the latest changes, your database does
the work. In some cases, the database will also automatically update your saved media lists within the system with changes,
to ensure you are always up-to-date for your outreach.
Build Relationships with the Media
One-sided friendships don’t work. If you are constantly pitching your media and never listening or offering assistance, you
may have more difficulty getting through to them. In order to build a great working relationship with the media, treat them as
you would a friend.
• Be a Resource–Would you only call a friend when you needed something? A common downfall of PR profession-
als is not engaging in a true two-way relationship. Take some time to get to know the media and what topics they find
interesting. When you run across something they might like, let them know about it. It may not get you ink right away
but will help you create a relationship. Building a relationship will help open up a friendly dialogue with reporters and
can not only increase your chances of future coverage the next time you call but can even cause the media to check in
with you, instead.
• Have a conversation–While listening to an poorly targeted pitch can be a waste of time, many reporters will be
open to discussing what might be of interest to them. Do your research first and then get to know your reporters. Ask the
reporter what they find interesting, the types of stories they like, what their opinion is of your company. In many cases,
it is a great way to open up a dialogue and an even better way to make sure your pitch is on target. Some technology
makes it easy to store the information you gather alongside contact information and more general details. Find a PR
system that allows you to enter in your personalized information both for your own use and others within your company.
• Respect Deadlines–One of the most important foundations of any relationship is respect. Respect the time and
constraints of reporters. Many PR databases offer public relations professionals an outline of deadlines and reporter’s
personal preferences to help get you started, but things can change. We all have our own schedules and deadlines, so
keep in mind that just because you have time to discuss a story, they may not. Something as simple as asking if it is a
good time to talk, shows you respect their time and schedule.
• Use Available Resources–While keeping up with the many changes is important, it is also important to continue
your outreach. Services such as Help a Reporter Out become even more valuable during these times. With a listing of
specific stories for which reporters are looking for interviews or commentary, you have a great way to stay in front of
the press and secure coverage. Using the relationships established by the service, you are able to connect with reporters
and build your own relationships.
At the end of the day, building a long term relationship with a reporter will serve to provide you with more opportunities
While everyone wants immediate coverage, forming a relationship will result in more coverage over time and can even
lead to additional relationships that will benefit your company.
Target the Media
No matter what outlet you are dealing with, online or offline, do your homework and research. Nothing irritates reporters
more than being pitched on a story in which they clearly have no interest. Pitching reporters without researching them first is
dangerous, and may result in you not only losing a story but also trust in you as a professional.
If the outlet is a fit for general company news, you should already be familiar with its content. If it is appropriate for more
specialized content, familiarize yourself with the topics they care about and more importantly, their perspective.
Today’s PR software can provide you with basic information on reporters and their coverage areas. In the case of Vocus, you
are able to get the basic information as well as more in-depth background. Use the information to target the best reporters
for your stories and create a pitch that will get their attention.
• Understand Areas of Coverage–While you know to look for reporters that cover your industry or the subject
of your news, in many cases you need to dig deeper. The beat of the reporter may be a match for your pitch at first
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glance, but continue to use available resources to ensure they are a good fit. Look through their past articles to see spe-
cifics of how they cover an industry or if they have a particular angle within a beat on which they typically focus. Many
PR systems provide additional information to give you a full picture of a reporter’s interest and help you target your key
reporters better. With research teams focusing on gathering information on each reporter, they are able to offer up-to-
date information that will provide a great foundation to create your media lists.
• Research the Outlet-PR management systems will also provide information on the outlet. Research the coverage area
and audience of the outlet. Remember your story needs to be a fit not just for the reporter but for his publication as
well. Read the publication and understand its objective. Just because a reporter may cover the topic you are pitching,
make sure you frame it appropriately for the outlet as well. The readers of a financial publication are less likely to be
interested in the opening of a new store, than the impact that local store will have on the local economy for that area.
Think about the audience and decide what about your story will appeal to them.
• Tailor your Pitch-Now that you have done your research, use it. Create a well thought out pitch that really shows you
have done your homework. Provide examples, reference a similar topic they have written on or an article that you really
enjoyed. Don’t just give them a pitch and hope they understand your intentions, tell them. Explain to the reporter why
your story is important for their readers. One of the common mistakes PR professionals can run into is not customizing
their pitch in some way to resonate with the reporter.
While no one can guarantee coverage, using your available resources to research and plan out your pitch is sure to in-
crease your chances.
Reaching Audiences Directly
With more companies fighting for the attention of less reporters, it is becoming harder and harder for you to break through
the clutter and get your news covered in the media. In the past, press releases that were deemed non-newsworthy never saw
the light of day. On any given day, journalists can only cover a limited number of stories. It has always been easy for your
release to get lost in the haystack, but with all the current changes it is even easier.
With virtually unlimited space and restrictions, the Internet has opened up a new avenue for you to get your story out to your
audience. Many PR professionals have begun using the Internet to reach their customers, partners, prospects and other audi-
Amidst the chaos of the media, online news distribution services, such as PRWeb, provide an avenue to increase your points
of contact and coverage. Since many of the online services are significantly less expensive than traditional wire services,
online news distribution services offer organizations of all sizes an additional resource. An online release will typically
range from free up to $400. Although, be aware that many of the free services do little more than post your release on
a website. Investigate your options to find an affordable service that has built relationships and established a distribution
model that will truly help your company.
Distributing your news through online channels ensures that your news is getting out regardless of the latest media shift. In
addition, these services extend the “life” of your press release through search engine optimization. In many cases online
channels also serve as an avenue to get in front of the media by putting your story, directly where they search for news and
With the rapid changes to traditional media and the rise of social media, more and more eyes are turning to the Internet for
their news. Social media is a great place to help spread your message but it can be tricky. Although social media makes
it possible to simply shout your message whenever and wherever, you will likely end up with the wrong kind of attention.
Social networks are communities and to be fully prepared to engage with them, you have to take part in it. Listen to the
conversations about your company and the industry. Understand what is being said and get a perspective on what you
should say, try not to focus solely on an angle to enter the conversation
Armed with the right tools and basic media relations skills, PR professionals can easily make their way through the changing
media landscape and secure solid results.
As a PR professional make certain that you are showing your target journalists, whether print, broadcast or online, the
courtesy of a strong, well-thought out pitch--a pitch that proves you have done your research.
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Today’s technology offers PR professionals a simplified way to apply those skills by providing the information you need to
not only identify your target media but build relationships will them that will further your PR strategy.
About Vocus, Inc.
Founded in 1992 by two entrepreneurs and best friends, Vocus (NASDAQ: VOCS) has grown into one of the world’s larg-
est and fastest growing public software companies. The Lanham, MD-based company has achieved 37 consecutive quarters
of growth and has been named one of the fastest growing technology companies by leading organizations including the
Washington Business Journal, Deloitte and Forbes Magazine.
More than 3,100 organizations around the world, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to one-person start-ups, use Vocus
products and services to generate publicity and grow their businesses. Vocus software was awarded the prestigious SIIA’s
CODiE for “Best Business Productivity Software” and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and Fortune. Our on-
demand software addresses the critical functions of public relations including media relations, news distribution and news
Vocus has offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information please visit www.vocus.com or call