Slow and Painful Death of PR and News Media
Content Marketing

The Slow, Painful Death of the Traditional News Industry When It Comes to PR

How many times have you paid several hundred dollars to use one of the top PR services to launch an exciting new campaign or announcement only to receive little to no results?

This happens a lot more than not.

The problem with these types of services in today’s business world is that it costs way too much money for even a little gain. So many huge companies waste money they specifically allocate for media buying and exposure from PR firms that ultimately fail at delivering the desired results.

If these companies actually measured their results, they might be surprised with how little exposure and ROI they are getting for their money.

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Focus on results with your PR, not just spending a budget on it.

Here’s what a typical PR campaign looks like through top outlets on the internet:

  1. Create an account through the PR agency.
  2. Write your press release.
  3. Choose the industry you would like to target.
  4. Select the distribution you would like to utilize.
  5. Your press release is sent down the wire.

While this may seem like a simplified process that’s easy to use, your press release is only getting lost in the mix. (And rightfully so!)

Thousands of press releases go live every day. If you send out one of your own, who’s to say anyone is going to find yours in the mix? All press releases are offered the same exposure across big-name news sites like Yahoo, Google News and others, but the promise of getting your message in front of the right audience just isn’t likely.

As a business or brand with an important message, you want to get your message in front of the right audience, not thrown into a category and listed among thousands of other articles for the day. (It’s easy for a reason.)

The Old-World News Reporting is Dead

We all know that newspapers and magazines are dying a slow, imminent death, and very few companies are able to make a successful leap to the internet. Huge names like The New York Times are building up a subscription-based model for its content, but they are truly only successful because of the name recognition they already have.

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Now is not the time to treat your PR and media like a game.

While it’s not a problem for news sites to come up with enough content, there is an issue with the supply of high-end advertising they can offer through their sites. 

The new publishers are confident in their prospects, citing increased Internet usage and marketers’ desire to reach highly targeted audiences through niche content sites and new forms of digital advertising. But ad buyers and industry executives say the proliferation of new sites and automation in ad sales is driving down advertising pricing—by as much as 70 percent in some cases—making it tougher for sites to turn a profit from traditional online advertising. More news sites means more ad space is available. - WSJ

These issues are across the board for almost all major news sites. Unless you have a growing supply of readers who are paying for access to your content on a subscription basis, it’s hard to continually pay for your world-class journalists, advertising and the costs of operating a real internet news company and business.

There are millions of “news” sites on the internet, and unless you have a well-known and branded name like The New York Times, no one is going to pay a premium subscription rate to access your content. With the business model of paid placement and advertising on a major decline, there has to be a better way.

But wait… just when you thought it was safe to be the New York Times… it isn’t!

Breitbart just came out with an article titled “New York Times Profit Falls 12%; Print, Digital Revenues Still Falling” – so now even the big players aren’t safe.

The article went on to say the following:

It is not the first time that the Times has experienced such a decline in advertising revenues—print revenues fell 13.3% and digital revenues fell 4% in the first quarter of 2013, for example—but the Times had been expected to do far better, given a rise in online subscriptions.

After failing to make earnings in previous months, the company is still struggling to make money. I think it’s time they shifted their focus and come up with a new plan for revenue generation. Even with print revenue continuing to fall and online subscriptions continue to rise (the article also reported seeing a decreased percentage in subscriptions during 2014)… they need to have a better business plan in place or they will simply bleed themselves to death.

A PR Revolution is Coming

We’ve briefly touched on two very important topics – press releases and how the traditional world of news and print is slowly dying. Even television advertising is getting hit hard with more people going to the internet to find the news and to watch their favorite shows.

The business model of paying $500-$1000 for a generic press release is not only ridiculous but also dying fast. The future of PR is all about working directly with the top names in the news industry to get your message in front of your direct audience.

In almost every case of advertising, the PR firm always wins, and the ROI is a toss-up for the brand who is paying for the exposure, as well as the publisher who is posting the content. Another potential problem in the PR world (usually when hiring an agency) is not having the ability to have your news stories written by someone from your organization. By actually owning your content and having control over where your message is displayed you are able to control exactly what gets published and directly target your audience.

The benefit here is two-fold:

  1. News sites gets to post quality and newsworthy content to their audience, providing value to their site’s visitors, while also earning revenue that surpasses ad campaigns.
  2. The topic of the article is reaching their exact demographic audience and provides immediate, long-term results.

So what actions can you start taking to improve the results of your new PR or media campaign?

Simple…create a campaign that has an end goal in mind and allows you to track the performance of your campaign. This can be anything from trying to get your content to rank higher in the search results for a specific term or actually tracking conversions that are as a result of your campaign. The idea of spending money on media buying and press releases just for the sake of having money in the budget is a complete loss. If you aren’t tracking the performance of your PR and media buying, you are already losing money.

Thanks to the power and innovation of the internet, the business and advertising worlds are changing on a daily basis. The question is… is your business model changing with it?

Image Credit #1: Tatiana Popova via Shutterstock
Image Credit #2: Ryan Jorgensen-Jorgo via Shutterstock

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Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 18 years of experience and currently blogs at ZacJohnson.com and Brand.com.
db70fcb360f225311308c6ab7f14d4c5 64 The Slow, Painful Death of the Traditional News Industry When It Comes to PR

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3 thoughts on “The Slow, Painful Death of the Traditional News Industry When It Comes to PR

  1. Thanks for the article, that was good to read. I have been doing quite a lot of clean up work with the Link Detox program from Link Research Tools in Austria. It is amazing how many links from press releases show up as toxic. Not because the press release site is bad, but just because people choose them as a good place to stuff their anchor text links. For this reason, press releases are certainly not part of my SEO strategy anymore.

  2. Very interesting article, Zac!

    You make a good point about The New York Times only being able to survive off this new model solely because they’re a brand name recognized all over the world. It’s not the same story for a smaller publication with less circulation.

    Hopefully this new model you speak of will help restore the sanctity of journalism before everything falls to shit.

    1. The “freemium” model has worked so well for many companies and mobile apps are a perfect example of this. It’s time news web sites learned how to better monetize their content and not try to keep the paying subscriber. Times are changing and thanks to the internet, information can be accessed everywhere and is cheaper than ever to get world wide exposure.