The media research you perform as a PR professional has perhaps never been as important as it is today. Getting your message in front of an interested audience is still valuable, but the players on the news landscape are not the same as they have been. The rise of fake news and deliberate misinformation has been much remarked upon, and it may lead to a mutual loss of trust between media outlets and their business sources - you included.
That said, the value of earned media coverage remains strong, and it's time to step up and seize the spotlight. The current landscape is a potentially confusing place, but if you manage to navigate it, the potential rewards for your company are still there.
In an article for the National Law Review, Knapp Marketing's Amy Knapp explored the difficulties that face PR in dealing with media outreach in the era of a fast and contentious news cycle - which has become the default 2017 environment. The author explained that many sources are finding themselves less able to produce actual stories and well-researched pieces as there is an endless stream of digitally generated chatter and reaction to be digested. When major news coming from the U.S. government is delivered via tweet, performing the traditional story pitching process can seem pointless.
Knapp offered the rejoinder that PR professionals must stand strong, even when the evidence seems to insist that spin and constant back and forth are more valuable than research, honesty, long-term relationships with press outlets or even the truth. While the short-term attention may go to loud voices, long-term bonds of trust come from consistent credibility.
Getting the kind of credible, long-term coverage that builds real value may mean going beyond pitching to outlets. Instead, you can zero in on the interests and beat of a particular writer. PR Daily pointed out that following the work of a journalist is the way to determine where to pitch. Matching the right topic with a credible author who has shown an interest in the subject is a way to launch not only the story in question but any follow-ups.
In an era of blurred facts and high-speed news cycles, it can seem fruitless to focus so hard on an individual - but the resulting stories can prove stronger and more enduring than quick information blasts. Business 2 Community contributor Emily Sidley specified that pitches should be relevant to journalists' regular readers. This means your media research should discover what a news source's audience wants. Remember that writers are also selling a product - their stories - and if you help them make it appealing, the relationship is free to develop.
Applying a traditional level of scrutiny to writers and publications' histories to craft ideal pitches is a valuable approach to PR - but is it viable in a world where news moves so quickly and is infected by fake and malicious stories? If your PR department commits to media intelligence, with tools and processes in place that can keep up with today's media landscape, this deliberate approach to media outreach is still possible.