Communication Professionals Need to Support Journalism in 2017
Earlier this week AM:PM PR cut a check to support a small newspaper in Eastern Oregon unfairly threatened with an expensive lawsuit from a governmental agency seeking to block its reporting.
While the lawsuit was dropped on Tuesday (after Gov. Kate Brown interceded) the story reminds us that good journalism is under constant pressure from many different threats. In addition to lawsuits, journalists and related media professionals face crises spurred by intended slurs like “fake news” from our commander-in-chief, reduced subscribers, low industry wages and questionable business practices leading to reduced newsrooms (among others).
It’s clear our friends working in the media could use some vocal allies, so the following is a list of suggestions to kickstart the creative process for other communication professionals looking to support journalism and the terrific professionals working in the field:
- If your client wants to promote a news story that isn’t news, push back. As trained professionals and consummate media consumers, communication professionals know what information is required to create a story. Media relations professionals and publicists should feel emboldened to educate clients when they try to push an idea that will only clutter inboxes or annoy our reporter friends.
- Don’t blast out a press release to 100 irrelevant reporters. When pitching a story idea, always make an effort to research and identify reporters that are directly applicable to the story, and reach out to them individually with short, easy-to-read emails. Buckshot press release blasts are annoying to those that receive them erroneously and will damage your credibility if you take a willy nilly approach. (And please, if you send information to more than one reporter at a time, please use the BCC feature in your email platform.)
- Don’t harass reporters. If you wrote a compelling pitch and press release and reached out to the right reporter you should hear back from them if they are interested. If you don’t hear back, maybe they aren’t interested? Exercise emotional intelligence when following up.
- Spend money to subscribe to multiple media outlets. Between AM:PM PR and my home media interests I currently subscribe to: Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Eugene Register-Guard, The Portland Business Journal, Salem Statesman Journal, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Funemployment Radio and RollingStone. If we want free, independent journalism we need to get back into the habit of paying for it.
- Disseminate real news. Follow your favorite journalists on social media platforms. Share their work, comment on their stories, make your proverbial Uncle Bob read those stories, too. In some newsrooms reporter’s performance reviews are tied to story impressions and other social media related-metrics, so put your thumb on the scale for journalism.
- Challenge Uncle Bob. One of the best things going for the anti-media crowd (sharing actual fake news from Brietbart, Infowars, NaturalNews, etc.) is that people who actively identify the fakery are so burnt out on the b.s. that they either ignore these connections or unfollow them altogether. Perhaps instead, demonstrate what real journalism looks like or occasionally and subtly offer tools for spotting fake news (like this guide for 5th graders from Vox).
These are just a few simple ideas – we’d love to hear your thoughts via Facebook or Twitter. #supportjournalism