MEDIA ROUNDUP: Covering the workplace - the job always changes. Theworkplace is a subject that affects practically everyone...

Human capital management was mostly an unknown concept 10 years

ago, but today it is one of the key focuses of workplace journalism.

While in the past, most coverage focused on the more traditional

family-work balance stories, now issues related to human capital have

eclipsed it.

"As the workplace beat becomes more hard news, it's attracting a new,

more analytical reporter," notes Jessica Korn, editor-in-chief of Gallup

Management Journal.

The focus shifts

In the good old days of the technology boom, reporters most often

focused on talent retention and training costs. But now that layoffs are

more commonplace, Korn says Wall Street analysts have become more savvy

about employee retention and no longer greet every massive round of

redundancies with praise about how it will help a company's short-term

financial outlook.

The result has been that workplace journalists are not only reporting on

the remarkable shifts in the balance of power between employer and

employee, but are in many ways reinforcing the notion that workers are

in charge of their own careers. Fast Company magazine made its name by

championing that concept.

"The power of the job candidate has come to the forefront," says Kristin

Bowl, media relations specialist for the Society of Human Resource

Managers (SHRM). "Now potential employees realize they need to know a

lot more when they negotiate for a new job. That's where you've seen a

lot of reporting."

Demonstrating the growing interest in employment matters among

reporters, the Society says that in 1990 it received 207 calls from

journalists asking for information on workplace-related stories. Last

year that number was more than 3,000.

Everybody's business

Virtually every major newspaper now has a workplace section devoted not

only to finding jobs, but also to answering questions about a variety of

office-related subjects ranging from sexual harassment to negotiating a

raise or benefit package. The Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times, for

example, now devote a section in their Sunday editions, while The New

York Times has a "Workplace" segment on Wednesdays.

Perhaps because of its role as the preeminent business publication in

the US, The Wall Street Journal has been at the forefront of many of

these discussions, not only in its Career Journal supplement, but also

on the front page.

The most influential reporters on the workplace beat tend to be at the

major newspapers. They include Sue Shellenberger, Rachael Silverman and

Patrick Barta of The Wall Street Journal, Lisa Belkin of The New York

Times, Jill Hamburg Coplan of Business Week, Amy Joyce and Ken

Bredemeier of The Washington Post. Others big names in this sector

include Diane Lewis and Jerry Ackerman of The Boston Globe, Carol

Kleinman and Steven Franklin of the Chicago Tribune, Stephanie Armour of

USA Today and Maggie Jackson of the Associated Press.

Matt Wright, senior account executive with Atlanta-based Duffie

Communications, says he encourages his clients to participate in this

type of story, even going as far as to package a workplace story concept

around his client, which he can pitch to a reporter. "We've been very

successful in placing these thought-leadership-driven pieces that aren't

necessarily hawking a product," he says.

Wright adds that many of these work-related stories have recently

focused on the downsizing companies are enduring. "I get calls from

reporters wanting to talk to companies facing the challenge of layoffs,"

he says.

"I usually steer my clients away from those stories, unless I have a

relationship with the reporter and I'm confident that it won't end up a

hatchet job."

The increased importance of workplace related journalism has created

some new PR possibilities, especially for companies such as,

intent on building a brand online as both a career and job resource.

Elizabeth King of the Weber Group, which represents Monster, says the

company has a group of executives it offers as experts on

workplace-related issues available for interviews. "We just see this

media outreach as a natural outlet that helps Monster reinforce its

message of helping define how career relates to life," she says.

Lost in the shuffle

Somewhat lost in the mix is the changing face of the American office.

Russell Rowland, executive vice president for New York-based HWH Public

Relations, which represents Samsung, concedes that some aspects of the

current workplace and business journalism climate have made it hard for

office product companies to get the attention of the press. "Things like

fax machines and printers are really considered a commodity," he says.

"They don't cover them regularly."

Rowland says he has had much better success in pitching office products

to technology writers such as The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg

and Time's Anita Hamilton. "You've got to have some hot new angle or

technology for them," he says.

Last year Samsung introduced a flat-panel computer monitor with a

built-in TV tuner so employees can watch the financial news on CNBC

while they work. "It was the first flat panel in the category to do

that," he says, adding that alone helped it generate coverage in Time,

Newsweek, The New York Times and elsewhere.

Rowland says the only other office products pitch with a chance of

capturing the interest of the business press are price breakthrough

stories, such as when a company brings out a dollars 199 laser printer.

"Those can be good stories for newspapers like USA Today," he says,

"Because they don't like to talk about technology their readers can't



Trade publications: HR Magazine; HR News; Executive Recruiting;Executive

Recruiting News; Staff Industry Analyst;

Diversity Monitor; Office World;

TWICE; Computer Reseller News;

Information Week; InfoWorld

Internet: Job related sites like:;

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in