In a rapidly evolving media landscape, the task of gaining earned media coverage has become rather complex. To better understand how PR folks currently feel about the media relations landscape, the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) surveyed its 18 U.S. member firms with a goal of understanding how easy or difficult obtaining earned media has become in recent years and what factors are contributing to the situation.
In a five-part blog series, Xenophon Strategies will dive into the different key findings that the survey presented and what it means for brands in 2024 and beyond.
The U.S. members of PRGN, all located in major markets, provide both B2B and B2C services (70%), specialize in B2B only (20%) or specialize in B2C (10%).
The online, multiple-choice survey was completed by 78 public relations professionals who engage in media relations. Respondents were encouraged to share additional thoughts, and their insights are included in this report.
Earned media, distinct from paid or owned media, is the editorial coverage an organization gains without direct creation or payment. It’s a crucial aspect of PR strategies, offering credibility and broad reach.
Public relations practitioners are unanimous in their assessment that generating earned media has become significantly more difficult in the last several years.
The survey responses pinpoint a key issue: crafting stories that capture media attention now demands greater effort and creativity. In the past, stories with moderate interest would find their way into media coverage with relative ease. However, the current landscape presents a stark contrast, where even compelling stories often struggle to gain traction.
“We will often pitch an angle we think would be great but will get little to no hits.”
The survey also highlights a notable evolution within newsrooms. Journalists, who once dedicated their efforts to specific beats, now find themselves handling a broader range of general assignments. This broadening of responsibilities, along with a high rate of turnover and frequent changes in newsroom roles, adds another layer of complexity to the task of matching the right story with the right journalist. The changing dynamics within newsrooms have made it increasingly challenging for PR practitioners to effectively pitch and place their stories.
What are the Implications?
For brands and organizations, this survey sends a clear message: it’s time to adjust expectations around earned media. PR practitioners who regularly interact with the media are likely aware of these challenges, but newcomers should be particularly mindful. Setting moderate expectations and heeding advice from experienced PR professionals is crucial.
To navigate the challenging media landscape, companies are advised to leverage the expertise of PR professionals with strong media relations experience and established media connections. Whether utilizing in-house resources or engaging an external PR firm, the benefits of partnering with a seasoned public relations team are clear. These professionals bring a successful track record and valuable media relationships that can significantly enhance a company’s earned media efforts.
“If you don’t have a relationship with a reporter, your email is less likely to stand out amidst the hundreds of pitches received by a journalist each day and is even less likely to get opened or considered by busier-than-ever reporters.”
The power of creativity is emphasized even more these days. While the task of getting stories placed has become more demanding, the belief remains strong that good stories will always find a home.
If you’re facing challenges in this new era of earned media, Xenophon Strategies is here to assist. Our team of experienced PR professionals is adept at navigating the complexities of the current media landscape. Contact Xenophon Strategies today to elevate your media relations strategy and achieve your communication goals.