Trylon Communications  - Volume I Issue 11

Two Way Street

Too often, public relations professionals believe the information flow in this business is one-way: from companies to the media. However, the recent FCC ruling that relaxes media ownership requirements should have PR pros asking as many questions as they answer. (FULL STORY)

Considered the most sweeping deregulation decision in decades, this latest FCC decision has opened the door to large media companies expanding their ownership in local markets. The ruling raises TV ownership limits and loosens restrictions on companies owning TV, newspaper and radio outlets in the same market.

With cross-ownership rules being relaxed and the number of television duopolies (one company owning two stations in the same market) quite high, some independent news organizations may face tough competition or possibly elimination in some markets. This may limit the number of outlets for news and story promotions.

While the effects of media consolidation on the PR industry are still being debated, there is a consensus that there will be consolidations. Any time consolidations occur, there is a tendency for some elimination of jobs.

That means that some of your most reliable PR contacts may possibly be going away.

For example, if a television broadcaster buys the local newspaper (or vice versa), as well as the radio station, there may reductions in the total news-gathering operation. Multiply this effect across the country and you may see some large-scale changes in editorial and reporter staffs.

Proactive PR pros will be spending extra time over the coming months editing their media lists, keeping up with staff changes, and talking to their contacts in order to strategically identify and change media opportunities in each local market.

They will also begin focusing more heavily on alternative media outlets, such as Weblogs and interactive forums. The new technologies available to PR pros will become more important than ever in gaining media response as traditional media outlets are restructured.

Those who donít prepare now will be in for some shocks when they try to pitch their stories to editors who are no longer on staff, or reporters who are too busy with added work to return calls as they once did. Strengthening current ties and staying abreast of changing conditions in your core markets will serve to keep you ahead of potential problems when itís time to approach the media with your story.

This brings media relationships to a new level. Instead of calling reporters when you have a story to pitch, you may want to give them a call when you hear about something happening on their particular beat or in their particular market. Make it a two-way street, and you may end up ahead of the curve.