Notes from 2007 Reveal Media and PR Change

Among the interesting finds from the Tanner Friedman office move earlier this year was two pages of notes used for a presentation about media change in October 2007. Now, ten years later, reexamining what I shared with an audience of professionals from various businesses then and comparing it with today’s environment serves as a reminder that whatever you thought you understood about how PR and media work together back then must be reevaluated now.

For whatever reason, the presentation focused on “daily newspapers,” local TV and some takeaways for media relations in general. For newspapers, the notes included:

-“Circulations down, web site hits up” – It’s safe to say that trend has continued and isn’t over yet.

-“Blogs get space” – Those were the days when news websites experimented with more free-form and opinion content from their staffs. That was a trend that didn’t completely take hold, mostly because staffs were so decimated by cuts in ensuing years.

-“Out of market content up” – That has only increased. Gannett’s “USA Today Network” is case in point.

-“Struggle to define future” – That, unfortunately, has not changed in ten years. The future for legacy local “daily” brands remains murky.

-“Still set hard news agenda in the market” – It was very much the case in 2007, as it was for decades prior. With larger news staffs, the papers in the morning tended to dictate coverage all day, save spot news. With more parity in staff size across media and the online appetite for “breaking news,” the “dailies” don’t always lead, but they often outpunch their downsized weight class with enterprising content that others follow.

As for TV:

-“Ratings down” – This has actually stabilized in recent years after a significant erosion in the ten years prior.

-“More with less” – Especially true now that reporters, in fewer numbers, have to tweet, post, live stream and turn multiple stories per day.

-“Live guests” – Many TV morning shows, then and now, offer increased opportunities to bring the stories to them when they can’t get out to locations to cover news

As for conclusions and advice:

-“Hard news is king” – This is still the case, as feature reporting was the first category to be cut in 2006 and has not returned

-“Exclusives, advances, firsts get priority” – That is very much the case, but not just for bragging rights. Sometimes, there’s only one outlet our journalist left in the market that is covering a beat, so they are expected to own the story.

-Build relationships to share ideas about how to use new platforms” – This is still as relevant as ever. We recently worked on a partnership with a media outlet where we got creative together about TV stories with emotion, a Facebook live session with information and a web exclusive that could be shared. It’s important to understand what the news organization needs to do in order to connect with its audience and how to provide the content it will take to help them.

There was nothing in the notes about social media, smart phones or streaming video. None of them had taken hold. All of them are now factors in almost any strategy.

Today represents a snapshot in this unfolding reality. It’s important to remember that when giving, or taking, any advice.