Arbitration talks have failed to reach a resolution and hundreds of Reach PLC journalists are striking today, with notice issued for further strike action in September. As the owners of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and over a hundred other national and regional titles, Reach PLC’s situation offers a critical insight into the state of British journalism.
The changing media landscape has presented a challenge to PR consultants for many years. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches a day, and this, combined with the shift to remote working and increased use of freelancers, means that PR’s need to work creatively to land the important stories.
As daunting as this might sound it also presents an opportunity. PR professionals should be encouraged to consider outlets outside of the main national titles and be hyper-focused on publications that reach their target audiences. . This can be especially effective with regional media, but any story must have a strong local hook and preferably a local spokesperson or case study to support.
When staff at Reach PLC or other publications do go on strike, it’s important for us all to be on top of those changes. Obviously, on strike days it would be wise not to try and sell-in to those outlets. Then, moving forward, with the knowledge that journalists are stretched for time, there is a lot we as PR’s can do to make their lives easier and subsequently be more successful when pitching. Stories should be thoroughly researched, with extra assets like spokespeople, case studies, graphics and data already prepared.
At the same time, organisations looking to raise their profile in the media should consider what their strongest, most newsworthy assets are and streamline their output to focus on these areas. It’s more cost and time effective for your communications lead to be approaching journalists with one really strong and worthwhile pitch than ten weaker ones.
In many senses the media has still not settled into a new normal following the 2010’s digital boom. But important stories are finding their way into the public sphere when those telling them are creative and strategic. Moving forward, Reach PLC will remain under the microscope, with the industry watching to see if a new way of working emerges and what that could look like at one of Britain’s media giants.