Friday, February 21st, 2014

By Brian Johnson, author of The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom,

The media we deal with is a lot different from the traditional version many people have in their minds. The digital age has reduced hordes of journalists to word processors, or “content providers” as their bosses now like to define them.

A great number will never leave the newsroom on a real job.

Journalists and presenters still love the exclusivity of a “scoop”. But the image of reporters roaming around town, attending news conferences, or staking out a person of interest while wearing a pork-pie hat with a PRESS card is, well, a little old-fashioned.

There are some journalists who still perform those roles – often with the big TV networks or metro newspapers. But they are in the minority.

The majority sit at their computer screens, they write, they edit, they phone, they email, they hit their deadlines, they go home, they sleep, they get up, they do it all over again.

Behind the facade of many big-name organisations are newsrooms running on a shoestring.

In our major cities you can be driving around listening to a leading radio station, or watching a high-rating TV station, not knowing the news is coming to you from another city, even from another state. Yet it’s all packaged up as your local news service.

These so-called “super newsrooms”, or “hubs”, feed multiple media outlets. Local newsrooms are being cannibalised and independent voices lost as cheaper (and often inferior) replacement services are networked from a different city.

There is a campaign waiting to be waged on the need to force a change in government media policy to ensure local coverage is maintained. (Imagine a natural disaster where you live, and your lifeline source of information hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.)

With some media outlets it can feel a bit like The Wizard of Oz – a big, important-sounding gospel being pumped out to the masses, but not a lot behind the curtain. This, however, is the non-localised world of the “super newsroom” which you have to deal with.

But back to the PR reality. You will be dealing with, in many cases, shared or networked newsrooms; journalists chained to their desks, with no scope to go out and cover an event. Because that is a luxury, time-wise, they can no longer afford. This is a crucial factor you need to understand when planning your push.

It’s also important that you know which outlets share a common newsroom, so you don’t clumsily phone the same place twice (or thrice) in pitching your material.  

This advice is drawn from The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom  by Brian Johnson, an award-winning journalist and leading PR practitioner.

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The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom

The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom is set to become the essential touchstone for media professionals, students and PR novices alike. Its insight into print, electronic and social media reveals the keys to success in the ultra-competitive world of publicity.

With feedback from seasoned media operators, classic case studies, real world samples, examples, Golden Rules and Top Tips, The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom is the essential guide to decoding the media – and using it effectively.

Brian Johnston
P: 02-6582 3311


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