PR pros, journalists find strength in the struggle

The pressure on both sides can be the key to improving relationships, say comms and media pros at PRDecoded.

Clockwise from top left: Ted Birkhahn, Gideon Fidelzeid, Gregg Castano, Sarah Foster and Binna Kim.
Clockwise from top left: Ted Birkhahn, Gideon Fidelzeid, Gregg Castano, Sarah Foster and Binna Kim.

With waves of redundancies and outlets either reducing frequency or closing altogether, the media business has certainly seen better times than the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s not the easiest time to be a journalist right now,” said Sarah Foster, economy reporter at Bankrate, during a session entitled PR Pros & Journalists: Bridging the Gap at PRDecoded, sponsored by News Direct. “The 24-7 news cycle is no joke. Lots of layoffs. Yet the need to tell important stories has never been more vital.”

Journalists are incredibly strapped for time to turn around content. This is one of many areas where communicators can step in and help the media—and help themselves in the process.

“When we sit with clients and prep them to speak to media,” counseled Ted Birkhahn, president and cofounder of Hot Paper Lantern, “we need to know what that journalist is going through day in and day out. That includes knowing the audience to whom they are speaking. That should be the basis of what you or the sources you provide tell that journalist when you speak with them.”

Foster underscored these thoughts by noting that “the pitches that stand out to me are the ones that really focus on the sources, as opposed to the brand or its products.”

The type and format of content provided by PR pros also goes a long way in helping their media colleagues.

“People are looking for content that attracts them on a sensory level,” offered Gregg Castano, founder and CEO of News Direct. “Give the journalists the content they need to solve their problems. An infographic, for example, can tell a story quickly.”

Binna Kim, president and cofounder of Vested, understands the pressure journalists are under to not only turn around stories more quickly than ever, but also drive traffic. Again, communicators can help. 

“Many media rooms have leaderboards to show who is driving the most traffic,” she said. “Our clients’ ability [and willingness] to share the press they are getting is very helpful—both to the brand and the journalist.”

This session was based on an ebook entitled Bridging the Gap, which was produced this year by PRWeek and News Direct. Click here for more information.

Go here to re-watch this and all the other PRDecoded panels.

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