Is PR Recession-Proof? A farm boy asks…

For horse owners, spring means expanding your network of resources to hay suppliers, stables, and farmers who still have hay stocked up and are willing to part with it. Last Saturday, we were fortunate enough to find a farmer in Northern Illinois with plenty to sell. The guy’s son would even help load the truck.

Profit, the horse who sparked the conversation
Profit, the horse who sparked the conversation


As we were loading bails of hay, the kid asked me if I worked with horses for a living. “No,” I said, “just one day a week, I guess. On the other six days, I’m in public relations in Chicago.”
I had expected the typical questions like “What does that mean?” or “Do you know anyone famous?” Instead he asked, “Is public relations recession-proof?”


This shocked me. Why was that his first and only question about PR? He was thinking about career choices and the most important thing to him is an industry’s position in the current economic climate. The source of this thought could have been TV network and cable news. But wait, this was a high school guy and they don’t watch TV news. My conclusion is that on whatever social media sites this kid tapped in to, the recession is being discussed along with PS3 games.


I gave him my standard answer: “Is anything really recession-proof?” He answered, “Yeah, I guess not, except for certain aspects of the entertainment industry and the mob.” Okay, so this kid knows his Sopranos quotes too.

I told him “despite the recession, we’re doing all right. In fact, it’s going to be a great year for PR. More companies will need to use PR to get their messages to consumers. When they see the costs of PR and the results they get compared to advertising, it’s a no-brainer.”


He seemed to get it! He even asked more about the return on investment of PR versus traditional advertising! Maybe this kid will be interested in a PR career. Though he might want to consider following his Dad into the hay business…demand is high, prices are up 25% over last year, and no one is Tweeting about lay-offs.




Fundamental Change at Media Outlets


Here is a very interesting trend pointed out by the development team at MatchPoint:



PR pros should be aware of a fundamental change in the media. In the current economic debacle, fewer and fewer journalists are employed be a specific media outlet.
It appears that the media have responded to the current business conditions, in part, by outsourcing editorial functions. The overwhelming minority of bylined journalists in MatchPoint are staff journalists. Most content is now produced by freelancers and syndicators.
For example, an analysis of MatchPoint’s Benton Evening News content, circulation approximately 4,000, produced the following results during a recent sample month:

  • 301 bylined articles.
  • 171 unique bylined journalists
  • 30 journalists produced > 5 articles

However, the Benton Evening News maintains a staff of only 2!
“Contributors,” including both freelancers and syndicators, are rapidly becoming the new mainstream.



For more information on MatchPoint, visit: MatchPoint


Or check out MatchPoint’s Facebook page



Media Outreach via Twitter


In March 2008, the Dow was over 12,000 and just a handful of early-adapting journalists and PR folks were using Twitter on a regular basis. What a difference 12 months make! The growth of Twitter has created an amazing and somewhat frightening channel to PR pro’s to converse with the media.


I would like to hear your stories and comments about experiences connecting with journalists in recent months.



  • How has your media outreach via Twitter been received?


  • Any negative feedback from journalists?


  • Overall, has Tweeting journalists been effective for you?


  • What would help improve this method of engagement?


Please comment below or send your tales to me at



Local Media Is Alive and Being Read


The media is dying! Wait, not so fast…


Changing? Yes.

Evolving? Certainly.

But dying? Not even close.

I haven’t gone one day in the past three months without seeing numerous blog postings from those who are lined up to be the next person to point out that many media outlets are in trouble. There is a frenzy of public relations pro’s, media “experts”, and marketers who can’t wait to Tweet and re-Tweet about the latest layoffs at various newspapers or TV stations.


It amazes me that many in Public Relations want to promote the collapse of the industry vital to their own work.


Of course The NY Times is broke. The LA Times and the Chicago Tribune are under water. Most major papers are feeling similar pain. But the story that no one seems to be following is the stability of smaller local media outlets.


PRWeek recently reported on a survey by the University of Missouri School of Journalism that shows 86% of adults read a local community newspaper each week.

As small papers continue to put more of their content online, this number will surely grow.


Instead of PR and marketing professionals panicking because major outlets are downsizing, perhaps they should reexamine their target audiences and tactics. They should counsel their clients about the value of local media impressions in the markets where a client has a presence. Reaching out to local community outlets may not have the same sizzle as getting a placement in The Times or on a national evening news program, but the impact of these combined local impressions may be more beneficial in reaching the client’s goals.