The Orlando Sentinel announced last month that it is closing its downtown headquarters, its home for nearly 70 years.
“After careful deliberation, we have decided to permanently vacate our Orange Avenue office,” publisher and GM Nancy Meyer said in an article posted to the paper’s web site.
Owing to the pandemic, a Tribune Publishing spokesperson added, “There was no clear path forward in terms of returning to work.”
The Sentinel’s announcement is just the latest in a long line of newsroom closures and related attrition at media outlets across the country. Newsroom employment at US newspapers has dropped by around half since 2008, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. More recently, the Poynter Institute started keeping an updated listing of coronavirus-related newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures.
So how do media relations pros continue to reach readers in an age of shrinking newsrooms?
Bloggers, influencers and reporters/editors at smaller outlets
While it's increasingly difficult to land above-the-fold coverage, that doesn’t mean you need to abandon media relations. Instead, consider bloggers, influencers and reporters/editors at smaller outlets. There are a slew of niche publications. In addition, some influencers have taken on the look and feel of news media outlets. Focus on niche publications with high-quality, targeted content. A tip: they typically don’t have full newsrooms and often welcome contributed content.
Develop content and leverage social media
Bypass media channels, develop content and then post it to your social channels. For the most part, followers have opted in to seeing your content. They will welcome longer-form content than is available in a typical social media post. When they do, they’ll land on your web site, which will enable you to re-market to them later. Don’t forget to consider social media advertising as part of this strategy. Organic reach began plummeting in 2012. Brands risk missing out on up to 94 percent of their audience when they fail to boost social posts with paid advertising, according to Hubspot.
Consider a sponsored content program. Tools like Outbrain and Taboola can drive your content to a variety of web sites, including tier-one media outlets. Another alternative is to put your content over one of the tier-one wire services as a feature story. Wire services aren’t just for press releases anymore and they also can develop multi-media options for you to deliver content to your audience. Add multi-media assets to your package. “Photos and videos make your headlines more likely to be clicked—as much as five times more likely,” according to BusinessWire.
Develop a brand journalism strategy
Can’t get the media to cover your news? Develop a brand journalism strategy and cover your company news as if you were the journalist. McDonald’s and Coca Cola were pioneers of this approach back in the early part of the last decade. In short, brand communicators supervise and even create content for sites and publications. Forbes Contributor Larry Light put it this way, “With brand journalism, the brand messaging is never static or boring. The brand story is delivered in multi-faceted ways across multiple devices and platforms.”
Michael A. Monahan is president & CEO of Moxē