To say that the rise of online content consumption has meant hard times for print media is an understatement. The breaking news from Reuters today reveals that some radical changes are afoot for The Guardian as the newspaper considers switching to tabloid format and outsourcing printing to a rival, perhaps Rupert Murdoch's News UK. This is one of a series of options to cut costs, according to sources.
So how is this part of the bigger picture for traditional PR? Well, as anyone in public relations who deals with the media day to day will tell you, the end result of the decline in advertising sales is fewer journalists and a greater reliance on a small handful of 'personalities' (Owen Jones is a good example) to sell papers.
There's been an increase in what some have dubbed 'churnalism', too - reusing press releases or 'news-ready copy' supplied by PRs verbatim. With fewer journalists to sift through the daily deluge of press releases, you still need a strong story and a good sell-in to get your story picked up, but time constraints press-side make cut-and-paste and a quick top-and-tail a more likely outcome.
Alongside the declining number of credible news outlets in print, there's been a rise in crowdsourced journalism, which now breaks some of the most contentious stories (who wants to pay for a law suit when they're trying to cut costs?). The decimation of the trade press means that fewer and fewer specialist publications exist, limiting the opportunities for B2B coverage.
The challenge for PR professionals now is to get creative and move on from dependence on mainstream media. Content now needs to be hosted on alternative platforms too, and audiences built through outreaching that content direct. Becoming accomplished in inbound techniques as well as media relations is the only way to equal the outcomes that the press alone would have delivered in the past.
Publisher Guardian Media Group (GMG) said last year it needed to make savings of 20 percent to stem underlying losses that widened to 62.6 million pounds for the year to April 3. It said it was aiming to break even in three years. "The company is working on a whole range of efficiency projects and the print programme fits into that," one source close to the company said on Monday. GMG prints both the Guardian and its Sunday stablemate The Observer on special presses bought more than 11 years ago when it switched from a broadsheet to the mid-sized Berliner format. Editorially, the left-leaning Guardian has clashed with Murdoch's British newspapers... On a business level, however, the two groups are collaborating, along with Trinity Mirror and Telegraph Media Group, on Project Rio, a plan to pool newspaper advertising sales.