With unemployment numbers at or near historic lows, employment beat writers are seeing little demand for the standard job-hunting story. Instead, they have changed their focus to how to keep a job or thrive in an increasingly demanding workplace.
"There's definitely been a shift as the economy has changed in terms of what reporters are interested in," says Monster.com's PR director Danielle Perry. "There are less stories on the tough job market and more on the positive outlook of graduates entering the job market this year."
"I think editors understand that everyone is still interested in how to get a job, keep a job, get promoted, and, in general, get ahead," adds Bob Brody, SVP/ media specialist with Ogilvy PR.
"You still have reporters like [The New York Times'] Steven Greenhouse covering the labor beat and looking at macro-issues like federal policy to lower the unemployment rate," he adds. "But you also have women's and men's lifestyle outlets doing workplace and employment stories, like the best way to get a raise."
The good news is that most outlets have beefed up their job and workplace staffs, and expanded the scope of employment-themed stories, says Stephen Brown, a media relations VP at MS&L.
"There's coverage on multi-generational workplaces or etiquette in the workplace or how to leverage the talents you acquired in one job to get the next," he notes.
Around this time of year, many reporters are doing their annual piece on college graduates entering the work force, but Patrick Berzinski, director of university communications for New Jersey-based Stevens Institute of Technology, says most reporters deserve credit for trying to find new angles to an evergreen story. "We've been able to get interest on how many of our graduates have already been interning at major companies and so are able to move right into mid-level jobs right out of school," he says.
Perry notes she's been receiving more calls from general business reporters looking to incorporate employment angles into larger business stories. "They may take an issue like gas prices and look at how that affects attracting talent," she explains.
In most cases, reporters want more than the latest labor statistics. "They're looking for experts," says Brown, whose agency's clients include temporary staffing company Randstad. "But they also turn to us [for] job-hunting or workplace tips they can pass on to their audience, and they always ask for real people to illustrate a story."
Look for seasonal hooks above and beyond college graduation, such as retail hiring during the holidays or New Year's resolution-themed pitches on achieving that goal of getting a better job
Don't just pitch the business press. Work is an integral part of life, so lifestyle outlets are also interested in jobs and the work force
Virtually every major news event, from rising gas prices to immigration to the war in Iraq, has an employment angle, so look to piggyback on breaking stories