Good PR – A Constant in a Changing World

23/01/2018

There’s a conversation going on in PR at present – about how it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get newspapers interested in press releases. But is that actually true?

Our news media are certainly changing fast. People are consuming information via screens rather than printed pages, and newspaper sales are on a distinctly downward trend.

But it was still a bit of a surprise to see a recent discussion on LinkedIn, where a publication had responded to someone’s news release by saying that it was “company policy” not to use any release unless there was a supporting paid-for ad.

It just shows how tough things are for the news media these days, particularly in print.

Editorial teams are being cut and many local journalists are now little more than processors of content. Opportunities to unearth original stories are severely limited.

Online, it’s all about clickbait – generating visitor traffic to maximise advertising income. Hence the rise in generic showbiz and lifestyle stories on local newspapers’ websites with no obvious regional connection.

This may present a bit of a challenge to those of us in the PR business – but actually, it’s no bad thing to be kept on our toes.

Good media relations are still about offering up client stories which are so interesting that news desks WANT to run them.

Even better, if the press release comes with a high-quality photo and is so well written that it needs little alteration!

So in reality, things haven’t changed as much as all that. Successful PR still requires creative thinking, strong contacts, great wordcraft, and a fundamental understanding of what makes a good story.

In this digital age, such understanding is still the essential ingredient. There’s no point in trying to secure media coverage of something no one wants to read or talk about.

That’s where PR professionals still have a role to play – finding the right angle or spotting a better alternative story that’s been overlooked.

Technology and human habits may be changing, but the knack of knowing what will sell is as important as ever.