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!






Pitching 101: Media advisories, press releases and more

Being a young professional in the industry, many of my closest friends and family still don’t understand exactly what public relations and media relations consists of. To keep the conversation short and sweet, I describe my profession as “emailing reporters and asking them to cover my client’s story,” which isn’t technically wrong. But it’s also so much more than that.

 

From drafting media advisories and finalizing press releases, to tailoring the perfect email pitch to the lifestyle reporter, my job can get pretty hectic!

 

In order to get coverage for a client, these tactics are the most important pieces to the media relations puzzle. Check out the most common – and successful- tools for pitching your ideal reporter below:

 

Press release

A press release, also commonly referred to as a news release, is a PR professional’s greatest asset and tool (besides the AP Stylebook!). A press release is a short, compelling news story with statements from the company that outline the most important details of an announcement. A few examples that warrant a press release include:

 

  • Moving to/opening a new location
  • Announcing a new product or service
  • Announcing a key new hire or promotion
  • Winning an award
  • Company rebrand
  • Promoting an upcoming event

 

Press releases are written with the intention of sending to members of the media. Yes, sometimes they can be housed on a company website, but the sole purpose is for the media to pick one up and decide to cover the announcement in an upcoming broadcast or draft a story online or in print.

 

Media advisory

A media advisory is not a press release and the intent is actually different, too. A media advisory is written for the media, but it’s used to make them aware of your announcement, and hopefully to cover it, too! Media advisories work best for events, press conferences or grand openings. It’s common that an event might warrant both a press release and a media advisory, if it’s important enough.

 

The best media advisories should include the “5 W’s” or the who, what, where, when and why of the event. If your advisory is lacking any details or information, it’s likely the reporter won’t take the time to reach out and ask for clarification.

 

Basic pitch

Believe it or not, sometimes your email to a reporter doesn’t have to include a release or an advisory. If you have something newsworthy for a client, but you’re not necessarily inviting them anywhere or it doesn’t warrant a release, you also have the option to simply draft the perfect email and hit send. It’s a great, quick and easy way to get your client’s name out there without spending hours on creating an extra deliverable.

 

If you decide to send a pitch, personalize it! Depending on who you’re pitching, reporters can get upwards of 500 emails each day. So, make your pitch stand out against the rest.

 

A few ways to do this include using catchy emojis or their first name in the subject line. Personalize your email further by finding out what the reporter enjoys or what they typically write about and tying it into your intro. I like to visit reporters’ Twitter accounts to gain insight before hitting send. Whatever you do though, make sure your pitch is filled with information and leave nothing to the imagination.

 

Hopefully I’ve given you enough basic information to get you started. Remember, include all the details, make it unique, make it personal, and you’re bound to have luck! Just keep pitching.

 

Need help drafting your next press release? Looking to get results for your next company announcement?  Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to set up 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.