What cuts in journalism jobs mean for PR

There are six public relations professionals for every journalist.

In 1980, the ratio was 1.2 to 1.

These ratios, pulled from recent U.S. Department of Labor statistics, illustrate just how dramatically the media relations landscape has fluctuated in the last 40 years. Especially in 2019, it’s clear that the media industry – and by extension public relations and media relations – is shifting as a result of waves of layoffs, changes in business models and the rise of influencers and citizen journalists in the internet age.

Below, we explore the evolution of journalism, what it means for the PR industry and the role of PR pros during the transformation.

What’s the reality?
Earlier this year, local and national news organizations announced waves of layoffs as a result of traditional newsroom downsizing and budget cuts. The latest reports show more than 2,200 people lost their jobs in this latest round of layoffs, setting a dark tone for 2019.

The print industry in particular is seeing an increase in layoffs as a result of recent transitions. Between January 2017 and April 2018, at least 36 percent of the largest newspapers across the U.S. – as well as at least 23 percent of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets – experienced layoffs, according to a PEW Research study. Additionally, buyouts and mergers have clouded the landscape in a fight to find the right business models to bring monetization and higher profitability to online media in particular.

This news is negative for all of us — journalists, media outlets, PR people, citizens and democracy.

In this landscape, it’s also important to realize the pay gap that exists between PR professionals. Back in 2000, the pay gap between the PR pros and reporters was a little more than $6,000 annually. In 2017, the difference in salary increased $16,000. With a figure like that, it’s clear why many reporters are leaving their roles and transitioning into related fields such as PR, marketing and advertising.

What does it mean?
As the audience of journalists shrinks and number of PR pros grows, it’s harder than ever to get media coverage. Because journalists are heavily outnumbered, they are constantly bombarded with pitches.

To combat the clutter, PR pros must tailor each message to specific reporters and think like a journalist by following some basic journalistic principles such as:

  • Avoid selling and start storytelling, as journalists and as PR professionals, our first goal is storytelling, not selling.
  • Know what’s newsworthy by following five key elements to newsworthiness: timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest.
  • Understand your audience by asking: Who are your customers? Who are your clients? And, who are the ideal readers of the story you’re hoping to tell?
  • Verify and research your content, from media pitch, a white paper or a thought leadership article.
  • Strategically structure your writing by following the traditional pyramid model. Your most important and most interesting content belongs at the very top of the pyramid.


What can we do about it?
Despite the many changes brought on by the digital revolution, there continues to be an ongoing need for a new, yet free and honest, press that can be supported by PR pros.

The PR industry should be dedicated to supporting the growth of traditional and non-traditional journalism, and PR pros can have a profound impact on the evolution of journalism by engaging in activities such as:

  • Read news to learn more about the topics impacting your clients, the community and the world at large. This can also help you learn the names and styles of key journalists that you’re wanting to build a relationship with.
  • To directly fund journalism, you should individually support or encourage your agency or company to subscribe to news outlets locally, as well as publications in client verticals.
  • Develop new skills that can make the jobs of journalists easier, such as learning how to use a DSLR camera or write a concise headline to increase the odds of a story being picked up.
  • Consider working with non-traditional media, such as influencers and citizen journalists to spread client stories.
  • Hire journalists looking for a career change to the PR profession, as their skills and inside know-how are invaluable for storytelling and pitching efforts.


No matter how much the media industry shifts, one fact remains: Both professions will continue to work together and rely on one another for many decades to come.

Is your business looking for a way to cut through the clutter and reach key journalists? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to schedule a consultation today!






Dittoe PR client announces monumental acquisition

Plastic straws.

 

They’re small, convenient, inexpensive and seemingly harmless. Their use has been widespread amongst restaurants, retailers, consumers and businesses alike for several decades. However, this modern-day convenience also comes at a high price.

 

Plastic straws not only contribute to our rising plastic pollution crisis, but they’re unavoidably harmful to the environment, as they’re too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. Shockingly enough, Americans use more than 500 million plastic straws each day.

 

Enter Aardvark Straws.

 

Introduced in 2007 in response to the growing anti-plastic movement, Aardvark Straws offer an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws with their durable, FDA-compliant, marine degradable paper straws. They’re produced in more than 200+ customizable designs, making Aardvark Straws ideal for a large range of uses, including restaurants, weddings, holidays and more.

 

However, as the anti-plastic movement grew, so did the anti-plastic straw movement. People became increasingly aware of the dangers of plastic straws. Following the hard work of many activists and organizational groups, others began to take notice. Cities began to ban plastic straws, then major corporations did, too. Some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Starbucks, American Airlines and Hilton, all pledged to remove plastic straws from their companies.

 

As the movement grew, so did Aardvark. As the sole U.S. producer of paper straws, Aardvark was soon selling billions of paper straws to restaurants and establishments all across the globe. Business accelerated quickly, which led Aardvark to start thinking about what was next for the company.

 

With plastic straw bans occurring worldwide and the paper straw market on the rise, Wisconsin-based Hoffmaster Group saw an opportunity to capitalize on the rapidly accelerating demand for alternatives to plastic. Hoffmaster acquired Aardvark in August 2018. They invested in the brand because they believe in paper straws as a product solution and saw Aardvark as a natural extension of Hoffmaster’s premium portfolio of environmentally responsible, disposable tabletop products. Through the acquisition, Hoffmaster hopes to protect the environment and marine life, as well as to ramp up production in order to supply top grade paper straws to the marketplace.

 

As a longstanding client, Dittoe PR jumped on the opportunity to lead media relations efforts for Aardvark’s exciting announcement. We shared the news with local, regional and national media, which resulted in media hits in several major media outlets including Fortune, USA Today, CNNMoney, MarketWatch, Inc. and live TV interviews on CNBC and Fox Business News.

 

In addition to careful research and personalized pitching that led to such great media results, we also assisted with the thorough development of messaging for the acquisition. From messaging documents to customer questions to media interview prep sheets, it’s important when making such a major announcement that all messaging is consistent and accurate.

 

Ultimately, Dittoe PR was able to generate 240 media hits garnering 167,100,363 media impressions and a total publicity value of $1,917,878! We were overjoyed with the outcome of this campaign and are looking forward to continuing to lead Aardvark’s PR initiatives in the future.

Three tips for telling great brand stories through public relations

Everyone has said to someone, “I have a story to tell you.” Our brains are hardwired to tell and listen to interesting stories, not just facts or data.

 

Public relations professionals discuss storytelling all the time and do it every day, yet the term seems to have evolved into a buzzword in our industry. So, how do you define brand storytelling in PR?

 

At Dittoe PR, we are strong believers that every brand, company and founder have a compelling story to share. From advice on bolstering employee engagement to the proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste, every company can and should be an expert within their industry through brand storytelling. With diligent research and an eye for tying in relevant news angles (i.e. newsjacking), we specialize in developing compelling story angles to regularly generate prominent media coverage for our clients.

 

The tips below demonstrate the power of storytelling in PR and what it really means to tell stories on behalf of a brand.

 

The best brand stories are, in fact, stories.

At Dittoe PR, we pitch stories – not companies, products or services. We don’t tell stories that blatantly sell. For example, we recently successfully pitched a story about an Indianapolis father raising awareness and funds to help people, including his daughter, who are suffering from an incurable disease.

 

Storytelling was the most important part of this project. Our goal wasn’t just to land media hits, but to tell an extensive story – written by the perfect reporter – with the goal of reaching readers who will act. While collecting donations was one of the primary goals of the media relations campaign, building awareness about the disease was also a priority the client wouldn’t have been able to achieve without a customized pitch to tell this story. The story landed the front page of The Indianapolis Star, a top 100 newspaper.

 

The best brand stories initiate social change.

Another extraordinary example of successful brand storytelling was Lonely Whale’s Strawless in Seattle campaign.

 

Although the month-long campaign generated nearly 250 stories in the media and an advertising equivalency of close to $3 million, on a social impact level, Strawless in Seattle was ultimately more successful than the team ever imagined. As a result of the campaign, the city of Seattle announced they were banning plastic straws effective July 1, 2018. This summer, we’ve obviously seen a huge domino effect of companies and other cities doing the same.

 

The best brand stories bring real results for clients.

Through media hits, giveaways and influencer stories, PR and social media, storytelling positions Ironworks Hotel Indy as a trendy Indianapolis travel destination. This strategy has significantly boosted the hotel’s social interactions and followers across all platforms. When a local Indianapolis social influencer hosted a giveaway on her Instagram page for an Ironworks giveaway, the hotel gained nearly 400 followers in one day.

 

The metrics gained as a result of PR efforts are the best way to know where our stories are being told well. When PR pros tell compelling client stories to the right reporters at the right publication, their clients reach the right audience. That, in turn, engages with the brand and increases positive brand awareness and/or action.

 

Ready for us to tell your brand’s story? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com, or request a consultation today.