Reflecting back on 13 years at the forefront of national news as a journalist, the changing face of the media landscape has never been more apparent.
In just over a decade we’ve had a rise in the citizen journalist, social media news, papers going online – behind paywalls and then back out the other side.
And suddenly after being reporters on news, the reporters became news. Phone hacking, the Leveson Inquiry, and the introduction of IPSO – the spotlight was well and truly turned on.
But what’s changed day-to-day?
Newsrooms look very different to the ones I made my first tentative steps into back in 2006.
One doesn’t even exist anymore. The Independent on Sunday published its last print edition in on 20 March 2016 – more than a decade after the paper gave me my first job in journalism.
The powers that be cited a change in the way readers get their news – i.e more readers than ever turning towards a digital product.
A ‘historic transition’, the paper said, and one which typifies the recent changes the media has gone through.
The internet and certainly online publications were very much in their infancy at the start of my career – but we are now in an age of rolling news channels, 24 hour web content and the writing is said to be ‘on the wall’ for print.
Online news sites are multiplying by the day. Almost half (49 per cent) of UK adults now say they get their news from social media – which is up 44 per cent on last year.
But 38 per cent do still get their news from papers – and just 38 per cent of those that use social media for news believe it is trustworthy.
So the landscape has changed dramatically and while it is up to the PR industry to keep up with the changes, it can be difficult to stay ahead of the game.
Here are some top tips:
Research your contacts – do they work for online or print ? Their schedules will be different so it’s important you know.
For print focus on getting in touch pre-morning-conference.
National print news desks, editors and desk heads still meet mid-morning to discuss the day’s news agenda so it’s important to get their attention with a story before conference.
On the other hand, online news desks need content all day and all night. Reporters work shift patterns, so do your research. Track down a desk head and ask them when the best time to contact them is.
Don’t bombard journalists with too much to read – it will get deleted.
If possible contact someone you know. Journalists get hundreds of emails every day. This can be through online media forms like Gorkana, their own contacts, press offices and PRs.
Getting your press release read and then published can sometimes be luck of the draw – but if you know a journalist, have made the effort to speak on the phone to them or better still meet them in person you’ve just raised your chances of getting your release spotted.
Do your research – don’t pitch an event or product to a national news journalist. Just because they once wrote an article on an insect being found in a supermarket product doesn’t mean they write about food, or want to know about a new product your client has.
Finally – don’t be put off if someone tells you the story your pitching is rubbish. News is very subjective. While one desk head might think that your story is not all that unusual the next might think it is.
You’re always going to be competing with breaking news so make sure you keep abreast of ongoing news that week. If your story falls flat it could just simply because it was pushed to the bottom of the news agenda.
That being said, give your story a shot and follow these simple rules: Is it topical? Is it unusual or unique? Does it create a ‘water-cooler’ moment and get people talking? Does it include human interest? If you can tick more than one of these boxes you’re definitely in with a shot.
By Lauren Veevers – News Editor