Skip Navigation
Logo for Prosek

A Time of Crisis: How PR Professionals Can Help Laid-Off Journalists Transition

Harper Clark,  Matthew Goodman

News outlets of all stripes are being decimated at an alarming rate. The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, TechCrunch, Business Insider, Forbes, and more have recently announced significant layoffs, while The Messenger shut down completely. Some of the impacted journalists found out they no longer had jobs via push notifications, LinkedIn, or X.

Being laid off is distressing enough, but the contraction of the industry adds another layer of worry, making a tough situation even tougher. It’s imperative, therefore, that we as PR professionals offer a helping hand and find ways to support laid-off journalists, who are at the center of the relationships we’ve built on behalf of our clients. At the same time, we should also consider the ways in which we should and can adapt in a tighter media industry. 

1. Connect journalists with job opportunities in the industry directly.

Our core responsibility is to have our pulse on the media landscape for our clients, and that holds a key to unlocking opportunities for journalists amidst industry layoffs. Armed with an extensive network and insider insights, we're well positioned to call out job openings across the media industry, be it in journalism, digital media, or adjacent fields like communications and content creation. By leveraging our connections and industry knowledge, we can serve as matchmakers, linking journalists with potential employers and providing invaluable support throughout the job search process.

2. Share relevant industry insights and updates to keep them informed.

Know an outlet that's hiring? What about an outlet that’s announcing new layoffs? An editor looking for a freelance writer? Pass that info along, you never know how helpful you’re being. It can be as simple as DMing a friendly reporter a LinkedIn post calling for applications, sharing media news, or referring them for freelance writing opportunities. Being proactive and collaborative not only helps journalists find new opportunities, but also strengthens the symbiotic relationship between them and PR professionals.

3. Provide resources such as resume workshops or tips for job searching.

A second pair of eyes on most documents is usually helpful, and that should certainly be the case with resumes or writing samples. A trusted PR contact would be happy to review anything along these lines and provide constructive feedback to make sure a reporter sets the right tone in an application and conveys the right information.

4. Act as a reference for their skills and experience when appropriate.

In a similar vein, most PR advisers would be happy to provide a reference if a potential employer wants to get a sense check on a particular reporter, and whether they have the right experience and contacts for any given role. PR advisers work with a wide range of editors and journalists, getting to know their particular interests, and can help steer people in the right direction.

5. Should they decide to freelance, maintain a collaborative relationship to mutually support each other in the future.

Last but not least, PR advisers can also continue to serve as a resource themselves, particularly for those journalists embarking on a freelance career. This could manifest itself in two ways – either as a source of potential spokespeople for stories, or, even as a source of work, in the form of corporate writing opportunities. PR agencies and their clients often want a professional writer to produce reports, website copy and so on.

As the pool of journalists shrinks and news outlets restructure or close, the avenues for communications professionals to disseminate client messages grow narrower. Reporters are being asked to produce more, often at the detriment of specialist knowledge. The media relations experts of yesteryear encountered reporters focused on specific beats like software, chips, hardware, AI/ML, aerospace, robotics, etc. Today’s PR professionals battle to win over journalists who bear broader titles like "technology reporter.”

This is not the only way the media is evolving. Earned media placements, whereby PRs may submit a byline article on behalf of a client, are giving way to a pay-to-play thought leadership model. For example, TechCrunch is reportedly no longer accepting guest contributions, which are usually earned, and will lean more heavily into sponsored posts, which are paid for. For those in communications, that means that your spokesperson’s thought leadership might not fly if they're not willing to shell out the money necessary to guarantee publication.

That all said, the news publishing industry is not about to disappear, despite its woes. You still need to have an extensive media strategy in place, but it may take more thought, time, and effort, to execute it.

A multi-channel approach, leveraging self-generated content like blogs or bylines, attention-grabbing social media content on the right platforms, public speaking opportunities at respected industry events, and glowing client testimonials all have a role to play in creating a solid foundation. Such a diversified approach will help lay the groundwork to connect with your target audience.

Contrary to what some in the media may think, public relations professionals still have a big role to play.

Popular Blog Posts

By Views  -  By Popularity

Blog Archive