Jennifer O'Grady - Head of Agency

Head of Agency

As newsrooms shrink and the media landscape is ever-changing, we come to question what is the future of traditional media?

The public relations industry works with companies and organisations to cultivate emotionally driven stories and amplify client messages throughout the media.

However, the shrinking traditional media pool reflects the change in media consumption. 

Undeniably news desks are shrinking, publications are closing down and journalists are being made redundant, but this does not necessarily mean traditional media is outdated in the movement towards a digital age. It also does not change the importance of traditional media in the role of public relations. 

For PR’s it’s harder to tell their clients’ stories as the desks that they used to pitch to are disappearing. However, the role of traditional media is still crucial for the success of brand growth – it just means that PR’s have to change their approach when it comes to pitching to journalists.

Journalists now tend to work across a range of publications, over both print and online news outlets. Some work remotely or freelance and are on the move throughout the day. This means the old method of calling the news desk or the journalist extension is outdated. 

As we enter a new decade, the world of broadcast is bigger and bolder than ever. The change in the media landscape means journalists have easier access to news that happens in real-time, sources are easier to get hold of through social media. Therefore, before an agency pitches, they need to know what will work and what stories won’t work.

Top tips to a successful story pitch:

  • Pitch through less conventional methods such as Linkedin, Twitter or Pinterest
  • Look for a recurring feature you can pitch into, with a journalist interested in the trending topic
  • Lead with the story as opposed to the company, journalists look for a human angle in a story pitch
  • When mentioning a company, talk about its connection to the story and how this will affect the people consuming that media
  • Offering a chief executive and a celebrity is stronger than just an expert comment, as journalists believe everybody claims to be an expert these days
  • A data story without visuals can never be in the lead pages
  • Visuals are key when pitching to broadcast 
  • Be prepared to be flexible with the pitch

Traditional media is still the most credible news source, it’s essential for conveying brand messaging as it is instantly recognisable. Newspapers, magazines, Radio and Television will always be recognisable to anyone at any age, as it has been established for decades and newspapers even date back centuries. 

Newspapers date back to the 1600s. The first British newspaper, The Oxford Gazette, was published in 1665. The 19th century then followed on as a period of the newspaper boom. By the 20th century, each city had its own privately published newspaper. There were several daily newspapers in circulation in the 20th century; The Times, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Daily Star etc. Traditional media has had a much longer relationship with the consumer due to decades of communicating news, stories and campaigns to the masses. 

Those who are not part of the digital transition, rely solely on broadcast, newspapers and magazines to consume news. Social media is often used by traditional media to drive traffic to their website, thus meaning traditional media can still reach vast audiences online and offline. 

Traditional media and social media are both equal components when it comes to a successful mix of campaign channels. Over the past five years, there has been a resurgence of audio due to the rise of the podcast. According to Ofcom, we are currently in the centre of a podcast boom. A whopping six million adults tune into podcasts each week. This is double the tune-in rate of five years ago, the reach of brand messages would spread greatly on the podcast platform. 

There should not, however, be a misconception alluding to a hierarchy of platforms when it comes to defining which medium is the best to spread brand awareness. Both mediums work most productively when used together to achieve PR objectives. The key to a successful campaign is to reach out to all types of media; broadcast, traditional and digital platforms. The most successful PR strategies use a combination of media and platforms to amplify their client messages. Social media is an incredible counterpart but is by no means a replacement of traditional media.