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Are Paywalls Going to Make PR Go Broke?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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So, there's this thing called the Internet. It's fairly popular. Maybe you've heard of it? This intertube thingy has been the downfall of several antiquated forms of communication, such as stamps, yearbooks, video stores, and...um, offline porn. 

Among the many items shot down in its path have been our friends in the media, specifically newspaper reporters.

Publishers have seen their hard work becoming the lining of bird cages and blankets for the homeless instead of breakfast-table fodder because of the real-time and insatiable appetite of consumers looking for breaking news and headlines. These moguls have been faced with downsizing, letting great talents go the way of the unemployed, removing desks, and still are fighting for relevance. Above all, they are trying to keep their checks coming in...but how? 

And then we were introduced to the paywall by way of major market dailies determining which articles were so great that they should be paid in advance for reading privileges. The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and the paper of my own fare burgh, The Dallas Morning News. Now we learn about the Los Angeles Times, thanks to this great article in the PR Daily. So, if this is becoming the trend, the question should be, "Is this going to ruin PR?" 

Think about it: If a big story falls in a newspaper and no client is around to read it, did it really make a dent

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can get around the dreaded paywall and other papers do have (limited) free access for users who find hyperlinks through social media. It's the meteoric rise of said social media that has caused flacks from sea to shining sea to rely less on major media and directly engage through content marketing. Although PR professionals have to become content marketing experts to secure some ink, we still need to get said paper articles. 

Clients love to frame articles, put them on their walls of fame, and say, "Check out what our PR team got for us!" This is called job security, and now some of that security is hiding behind a paywall. Seriously...ever seen a client frame a Facebook comment thread or a slew of retweets? Probably not, and that's why we don't need to worry that much because mainstream media relations won't go the way of the aforementioned antiquated forms of communication.

That said, we got some to work to do, folks. We need to think out of the box, color outside the lines, and drive in the HOV lane.

   

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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