Trylon Communications  - April 2004

Media Convergence and Fragmentation

A recently published comprehensive study of the state of American journalism by the Project for Excellence in Journalism is a must-read for anyone connected to public and media relations. The study found that the role of journalists as news filters and watchdogs may become more pronounced as audiences fragment and technology fuels a momentous change in news consumption. The impact of this on your media relations strategies is profound.

Obviously, there are more choices for obtaining news than ever before. Consumers can be proactive in how they learn about events, choosing from traditional or alternative sources. How they choose their news will become more important to PR strategies as time goes on.

The report observed several trends, many of which are crucial for PR pros. For example, some news sectors are seeing declining audiences, while others, notably Internet, alternative and ethnic, are seeing increases. People are choosing news venues that resonate with their lifestyles and cultures. News stories that address this trend will receive a better reception from the appropriate venues.

There is more news to filter and less people to filter it than ever before. This puts journalists under severe pressure, and they really canít be bothered by fluffy press releases and mundane story pitches. Journalists especially donít need multiple follow-up calls on press releases that should never have been sent in the first place.

Immediacy in journalism is leading to unfiltered news. Whereas most news had previously been filtered, massaged and edited by journalists, consumers are now seeing news as it happens Ė with remarkable results. One false word, or one thoughtless reaction to a reporter, can hit the news instantly, with massive repercussions. Spokesperson and executive training for media relationships is becoming more important than ever.

Even large, integrated media groups have varying standards and audiences. What may appeal to a particular journalist at one broadcast network may be considered completely trivial to another media representative at the same company. This means that careful selection of not only the outlet you pitch, but the branch of that outlet as well, will grow in importance.

News may become a sellerís market. As more media scramble to produce quality news, those companies who have legitimate or appealing stories may get more control over when and how those stories are told. If you have legitimate news, understand its value and how you may use that value to your advantage.

To view the entire study, click here.