The media landscape in Canada is changing – and layoffs have been at the core of this change. The industry recently saw close to 1,000 laid off between Huffington Post, Version Media and Buzzfeed. Other national publications, including Style at Home and Canadian Living, have also been severely impacted by recent industry changes and have been forced to layoff nearly all employees. Like all industries that undergo change, ripple effects to other industries begin to show and that has been evident to the PR industry across Canada.
So, what is at the root of these layoffs? Is it the combination of shrinking advertising dollars, the rise of influencer marketing or is there a shift in how individuals are consuming media and what they consider newsworthy? Many factors play into the above equation, but regardless of what those factors are, PR professionals need to evolve and adapt to these changing times.
For our latest edition of Industry Opinion we turned to one of our community members to help answer the question – Leanna Kruk is Group Director at Brookline Public Relations [Marketplace Listing] to share her perspective on the most recent newsroom layoffs.
How do layoffs within the newsroom impact public relations people?
Leanne – Layoffs in the newsroom, simply put, mean that PR professionals need to work at developing stronger relationships with newsroom staff to ensure that their emails or calls are being answered. At Brookline, we are always looking for opportunities to forge positive, ongoing relationships with media. Perhaps I’m from the “old school” but I still believe in picking up the phone to follow up on emails. We’ve heard from many outlets that a follow up call is still appreciated and that it helps to build the relationship. Our agency has also found great success by offering footage, imagery and related assets to newsrooms as they may not have the staff available to send out a reporter and/or camera person.
What can public relations people do when massive layoffs occur?
Leanne – When layoffs across the media spectrum occur, it can serve as an opportune time for PR professionals to consider how they are currently working with media and contemplate ongoing checks and balances for their clients. While it does take more time than crafting a blanket pitch or press release, curating content for a specific journalist or outlet can provide a great opportunity to speak to a broader narrative and will help to ensure that the content is targeted for the outlet. By supporting with some of the heavy lifting for the journalist, you are in-turn making their job easier, which can provide great results for your client.
The media industry has shrunk significantly over the last five years, what impact has this had on the public relations industry?
Leanne – At Brookline, we’ve discussed alternative tactics to ensure we’re working alongside the media and that we’re aware of what impacts their bottom-line. Over the last few years, we’ve started to offer additional strategic integrated marketing suggestions to our clients, which includes paid placements with media outlets. By outlining the benefits of paid opportunities to our clients, we are providing our client the opportunity to develop content that is specific to their campaign, but also working with the outlet to ensure authentic, rich content for their audience.
As a team, we also take the necessary time to ensure that we are developing solid pitches for the right medium and that we pitch at the right time. Developing solid relationships with media can also help to ensure that we are providing them with the right content, when they need it. We have found that cultivating ongoing relationships with media about what we can offer to support with a story has resulted in positive coverage for our clients because they know if they require a spokesperson, comment or quote that they can call on us to provide them with what they need in a timely and efficient manner.