If I tell you that the media relations landscape is a complicated field of uncertainty, I think I’d be understating the obvious. Those reading this probably aren’t new to the fact that as more shared vehicles emerge and paid support becomes expected, the earned media space has been on the receiving end of a lot of this change.

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But in an industry rooted in public opinion, we’ve come to expect the need to evolve our operations and approach regularly. So, earned media isn’t what it used to be. It’s time to bury our what-if’s and but-why’s and focus on what’s next.

In the recent months, I’ve attended several PRSA Meet the Media events, and I’ve heard directly from the source exactly what many of us have dreaded hearing. So the question is… what are we going to do about it?

I’ve outlined a few trends below that I’ve noticed and some predictions I expect for this sector, as well as how public relations practitioners will need to react in order to continue driving media results in a narrowing market.

  • Overall trust in the media is down. Even crazier, Republican trust dropped by 18% in just one year. As the media’s support system, we’ll need to go the extra mile to offer credible, science-backed information in order to reinforce their role, and ours, as an authority.bb12-2v2
  • Phone pitching is waning, as are the actual phones. With media companies removing direct lines from their editorial staffs, we’ll need to capture their attention in other ways. Strong, short and creatively crafted pitches as well as human contact must be at the top of your list.
  • Infographics are the new press release – no longer the be-all-end-all. Gone are the days when national media posted your shiny, new infographic. In fact, many editors have said they’d rather infographics serve as the pitch itself, but they won’t run it. As internal content houses at publishers erupt, we need to rethink the purpose these tools serve, and reposition them to our clients as just that — tools.
  • There are more of us than them. Imagine receiving 250+ vendor emails a day. It’s harder to break through, but social media has become a gateway for discussion. With less time and fewer characters, you can generate value by meaningfully interacting with journalists on social.
  • Events have lost their luster. Reporters can tell when you’re hosting an event for the sake of it. Today, they wonder, “what’s in it for me?” If you’re asking them to take a night off, plan something uncommon, and don’t expect immediate results. Attendance doesn’t guarantee coverage anymore.
  • Print has hit a wall. Just yesterday SELF announced it would forgo publishing its print edition and that comes after many others – Details, Ladies’ Home Journal, Fitness, All You, Lucky… With an influx of print writers looking for work, you’ll see a bigger emphasis on freelance writing and stronger opportunities with the digital staffers at the more traditional print pubs.

What are some trends you’ve seen in the earned media category, and how do you recommend energizing traditional approaches to generate coverage?

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