In this guest post, Amanda Williams (main photo) from PR firm Yellow Panda, argues as media companies continue to consolidate & close offerings it’s actually a real opportunity for the PR industry…
Firstly, let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. We all know it’s there, and yes, the reverberations of what has happened in the last few months and certainly the last week are going to have a prominent place in the lives of everyone working within media in Australia. Were we already heading in this rather lacklustre direction though?
The writing it seems was already on the wall – well before we even heard murmurs of a virus with the potential to bring the modern world as we know it to its knees. Nine Entertainment Co and News Corp Australia were already looking at ways to cut costs. News Corp had finalised a restructure on its business model and Nine had outlined a three-year plan to cut $100 million from its television business. Furthermore, stating it was no longer ‘commercially viable’ the two companies then decided to shut national news agency Australian Associated Press — after 85 years of operation.
All this before you had even slurped your morning coffee and scrolled onto the words Australia and Coronavirus in a sentence for the very first time.
The media landscape has been shifting for a while now. We make the effort to go buy print publications less frequently now, meaning most of us are quite content to garner our news and information online, through TV, or by the radio. The latter two mediums have remained steady through the storm. Less print means less advertising meaning journalists and publications are disappearing or being put on hold. It’s a sad time no doubt about it, yet no one can say with any real certainty how this might play out. We can ponder and predict — but where does the use lie in that?
In the PR realm, we must recognise the necessity to buckle down and stay true to our work. Advising clients on when to keep communications hushed and creating content which is functional for journalists and applicable to the consumer is the order of the day. Hinging our approaches and conversations with journalists to fit the new order takes consideration. Formats have changed, slots have merged, deadlines are all over the place —meaning the PR activities we are pushing and advocating to must be apt and coherent as ever.
My personal experience of Covid-19 saw an upsurge in our client roster and work coming to us. The necessity then was to be on the front foot and acquire quality freelancers. One such freelance writer, an Englishman living on the Gold Coast, came out of nowhere and has aided our communications deftly. Working with these journalists now and onwards requires PR to produce quality content – diligently. whilst also being mindful of the financial and emotional difficulties being experienced across the board.
Charles Darwin famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”
Traditional publicity firms, in my opinion, need to pivot and supplement their existing services with greater consideration for lead generation, lobbying, and succinctly fostering tribes of followers who are hungry and adept at consuming quality content.
So, give it to them.
Being ahead of the ‘eight ball’ with your digital strategy is currently like standing on a spinning log on a gushing river, there is little room for error. Online conferences are replacing the real thing, podcasts are now the modern version of flicking through a newspaper on the bus, and IG Live is firmly taking the TV remote out of our hands. Implementing these carefully into your methodologies and practises is intrinsically going to reap rewards.
The changing role of Social Media and the influencer is a mixed bag though. Trends have seen some users increase screen time significantly, whilst others have purposely lowered their double-tapping or had distractions such as working remotely for the first time and home schooling. Ever noticed how mainstream media is now helping prop up big-time influencers? Doing so builds trust and turns them into household names. Is this a intentional move or merely a by-product? A notion that could surely be debated. One thing is for sure; Coronavirus times have led to an age of high-level and complex engagement across Social Media as a whole. Ignore this at your peril.
Investing in your services might be the life vest thrown out of nowhere you need. A recent course has given our firm the ability to offer our clients a new service: we aren’t reinventing the wheel by any means, but the added value is greatly prised. Only your scruples will dictate how much you are willing to go that extra mile, but it is in those wearied further efforts where the survival to PR lies.
Nobody is going to wake up tomorrow and never want to read, listen or engage with news or content ever again.
And thank god.
Making sure the consumer yearns for your content and can’t help but have it in front of them is the path to PR survival.
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