The Harbinger Group

How to Win At Earned Media in The Shrinking Media Landscape

Gaining media coverage for your client or organization has become increasingly difficult in the past few years as traditional media outlets face significant changes in how they operate and cover stories, driven by the 24/7 news cycle and shrinking newsrooms. As news consumption happens around the clock, reporters are under immense pressure to produce content quickly and cover multiple beats simultaneously.

In 2020 alone, over 37,000 employees in U.S. newsrooms experienced layoffs, furloughs, or pay cuts, while 30 newspapers shut down monthly.  Studies suggest that this trend has not subsided. In December of 2023, the media industry announced  20,324  cuts, the highest YTD since 2020.

With fewer resources and reporters, newsrooms have had to become leaner and more efficient. This means they often have less time for in-depth research and fact-checking, and they either rely more heavily on readily available information, visuals, and access to knowledgeable spokespeople, or they don’t have time to cover the story.

At The Harbinger Group, we have experienced firsthand the effects of a shrinking media landscape. While pitching to various media outlets for our client Golden Apple’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Leadership, one response shocked us. One local newspaper editor explained they were interested in the story, but unfortunately, they could not cover it because they didn’t have a reporter available to write it. This is when we knew we needed to get creative and refine our media outreach strategy.  Our team of experts continues to gain coverage for our clients while navigating the changing media landscape by implementing the following tactics:

1. How to Earn Media Attention in this New Normal

To effectively earn media attention in today’s environment, we adapted our strategies to put easy-to-digest, factual information, strong visual assets, and subject matter experts at journalists’ fingertips. Our team specifically:

By making our media relations efforts more reporter-friendly and efficiently packaging the key ingredients they need for a well-rounded story, we increase the likelihood of earning valuable media coverage despite newsrooms’ shrinking resources.

2. How Our Organization Adapted Our Earned Media Strategy

The Harbinger Group has taken a creative and multipronged approach to tackle the challenges posed by the shrinking media landscape. Rather than solely relying on traditional earned media tactics, we have expanded our strategies to leverage alternative formats and channels. Here are some innovative ways we have succeeded in earning valuable media coverage:

  • Podcasting Outreach: Recognizing the growing popularity of podcasts, we have identified relevant shows that align with our clients’ expertise and pitched them as guest speakers. This allows for in-depth, uninterrupted discussions that podcast audiences crave. The audio files also provide long-lasting content to share across channels.

 

  • Contributed Content: We have actively pursued contributed content opportunities for our clients on relevant industry publications and thought leadership platforms. These bylined articles position our clients as subject matter experts and provide third-party credibility. The content can then be amplified through social media, company websites, in sales materials, etc.

 

  • Original Research/Surveys: To create newsworthy hooks, we have spearheaded original survey efforts for clients on timely topics. The data-driven insights generated offer compelling media angles and substantive narratives for journalists to cover.

 

  • Social Media Amplification: Both podcasts and contributed content present prime opportunities for social amplification. We strategically draft social posts and repurpose content snippets to expand reach and visibility across our clients’ communities.

By diversifying beyond traditional media relations, we’ve been able to earn credible media exposure, build client thought leadership, and tap into new audiences through alternative content formats and distribution channels.

3. How to Deal with the Change in Media Consumption

In today’s rapidly evolving media landscape, where news consumption habits are constantly shifting, it’s important to amplify earned media opportunities across multiple channels to maximize visibility. Given the decreasing attention spans and the deluge of information people are exposed to, we make a concerted effort to package our earned media in visually compelling and easily shareable formats. 

Specifically, we leverage social media platforms as a critical avenue to extend the reach and longevity of earned media placements. We create engaging social media posts that tease the earned coverage, incorporating eye-catching visuals like photos, graphics, or video clips to capture an audience’s attention amidst the endless feed of content available. These posts link back to the original earned article or mention, driving additional traffic.

We also work closely with our clients to repackage portions of substantive earned stories into bite-sized, visually rich social media content like quote cards, data visualizations, or animated snippets. This approach caters to how modern audiences prefer to consume information—through easily digestible, visually appealing content optimized for social media feeds.

Additionally, we encourage clients to share and amplify earned media posts from their personal social accounts as well as branded channels. This coordinated cross-promotion exponentially expands potential impressions across diverse networks and communities.

We go beyond simply securing earned placements. We strategically integrate a robust social media amplification strategy that transforms earned opportunities into multichannel content generators capable of reaching and engaging audiences wherever they consume media.

While the new media landscape has posed challenges, it has also opened new opportunities. Organizations can maximize media coverage through adaptability, creativity, and a multifaceted approach that combines traditional earned media tactics with innovative strategies tailored to the preferences of modern audiences.

At The Harbinger Group, we have a successful track record of securing coverage for our clients through various outlets and platforms. Our earned media team can help tell your organization’s story, reach your target audiences, and promote thought leadership. View examples of our work here or contact us today to learn more about our services.