As the Writer's Guild of America strike continues to drag TV viewers toward a world full of more reruns, reality shows, and wannabe celebrities, it's slowly starting to affect a number of other industries - including PR.
Suzanne Lyons, associate director of Ketchum's communications and media strategy network, works with celebrities on behalf of some of the agency's clients. She says the only impact she's felt has been the inability to pitch those celebrities to the late night shows, which have gone dark. But Lyons has an outlet with a number of the daytime shows that are still airing.
"Because the daytime talk shows are still functioning, it hasn't really impacted what we do," Lyons explains. "But we're watching it very closely and have been in discussions with a lot of our clients about what we could do differently in early 2008 because it looks like [the strike] could go a whole lot longer than anyone anticipated."
Andy Marks, MD of Matter, an Edelman entertainment company, says the strike has worked both against and in favor of the agency.
"The schedules for celebrities, especially those [with] TV shows, are in flux," he notes. "So that's a challenge to nail them down and we have had a few instances where we had celebrities booked for certain things who later had to withdraw because they weren't sure what their schedules would be."
On the flip side, he says some of the agency's clients now have more time to participate in activities. Also, Marks adds that the strike is also starting to open up more opportunities for the agency to pitch entertainment outlets because of the reduced volume "of things to report about."
Indeed, entertainment publications and TV sections of daily newspapers are among those feeling the ripple effect of the strike - and are adapting accordingly.
Richard Huff, TV editor at the New York Daily News, admits that the strike has caused minor problems, such as a difficulty in getting producers on the phone to discuss certain things. However, he is confident that the paper will still have material to cover.
"The reality is people still have TV and viewers aren't going to put their TVs away," he says. "They'll still watch, so it's our job to find out what's out there for them to watch and to cover that stuff."
Kate Arthur, LA Times TV editor, says the strike hasn't caused a dilemma for the paper yet, but that could change based on its length.
"What our feature coverage would be counting on is that the networks have a lot of stuff they are going to roll out," she says. "There are [also] things on cable that would tide everyone over."
But Arthur says the paper will not just cover whatever the networks air. "If the strike goes on and on," she says, "and the shows making it on air are increasingly bad, we won't lower our standards just because we need to fill space."
Arthur says the strike has caused the paper to reshuffle some of its upcoming features, such as a piece on the return of 24, which Fox has now taken off of its schedule.
"I imagine something similar might happen with Lost and other mid-season shows that we would cover in a big way," she says. "But there's also stuff that we can write about like the return of Jericho, which was brought back to CBS by the fans."
And if that fails, there's always an old standby.
Says Arthur, "I imagine American Idol will be on 1,000 times a week and we'll write about it as we normally would... which is 1,000 times a week."