For 2021 PR Plans: Lessons From A Movie and A List

As you’re thinking about PR planning for 2021, it may actually help to think of a 33 year-old movie.

1987’s “Broadcast News” still holds up, as a recent viewing proved, especially the scenes near the end about job cuts. Nothing is more current then when the millionaire anchor, played by Jack Nicholson, says to the corporate news executive “This is a brutal layoff. And all because they couldn’t program Wednesday nights.”

Then, as now, the business of media, for a variety of reasons, just can’t support the jobs of journalism that it once did. While acute in the past year, it’s anything but new.

But so many we encounter in business think of news job cuts as some sort of recent phenomenon. In real life, though, the news business has been in a period of contraction for decades. The message just hasn’t gotten through to many who pay for or even do PR, who think that a cadre of reporters is still waking up in the morning awaiting what they think is a “story.”

Maybe re-watch the classic movie. But if you’d rather just click and scroll, take a look at this sobering state-by-state list, put together by the highly credible Poynter Institute. It’s a rundown of all of the recent cuts to news organization and it’s brutal. At least one insider has told us, though, that it’s far from complete. As hard as it is to read, it’s important to keep front of mind.

That’s the reality we’re facing, whether we are the ones who expect or try to receive the coverage. So instead of spending time into January “building out” too much of a calendar, think about what has been happening since March and, in the bigger picture, since the ’90s. It’s long past time to adjust plans accordingly.