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Not your father’s newspaper: How the press hunts for revenue in the 21st century

August 2, 2013

We’ve written several times about the tough economic straits facing today’s media organizations. Revenue is dwindling and newsrooms are shrinking, meaning the content your favorite newspaper or TV station produces simply isn’t what it use to be.

It’s an adapt-or-die world, and several media companies are quickly building new, revenue-generating models. For PR and marketing professionals, that means adapting with the media organizations that best connect your clients with their desired audiences.  If they’re offering new channels to your clients, it’s your responsibility to learn more about them. Here are a few of the most intriguing models:

Fortune – The Fortune news brand is quickly merging its editorial division with its advertising division to create content for advertisers at a price. Think of it this way: imagine if your local newspaper approached you and offered to write blog posts for your company for a fee. Not exactly common, is it? Media organizations have long prided themselves on editorial objectivity that, in theory, was immune from the influence of its advertisers. Fortune is blurring those lines by essentially licensing its brand out to clients willing to pay to place Fortune-branded content on their own sites.

The Washington Post – Fresh of major revenue losses, The Washington Post is now letting advertisers write content and place it across The Washington Post’s website. This model was unthinkable just 15 years ago. Again, media organizations prided themselves on having a clear separation between independent news coverage and advertisements from clients. Today, the line between independent news and sponsored news is getting smaller as The Post’s advertisers start generating their own news for a price.  Click here to see how the Wireless Association is using the new model.

Politico – Politico is the “It Girl” for political junkies following Washington’s ebb and flow on a minute-to-minute basis. Part of what makes Politico successful is its use of event management as a revenue stream. Rather than go follow the newsmakers around, Politico actually hosts the newsmakers at Politico forums and charges a fee for attendance in addition to healthy event sponsorship rates. The result: Washington’s top policy and political pros make news under the Politico banner while the news organization counts its sponsorship and ticket revenues. Under this model, the act of journalism is only a small part of Politico’s work.

Your father’s newspaper is rapidly transforming.  As PR and marketing professionals, our job is to find out which media organizations are adapting to this new landscape and to consider all PR and marketing options – even the ones that were unthinkable a generation ago – in order to advance our client’s message.

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