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Can PR Breathe Life Into the Newspaper Death Watch?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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If you have been in PR for any amount of time, you get to know reporters as more than people on the other end of a phone or email. You realize they are important to your local outlet; that these individuals do more than primp before getting on camera or check their AP stylebook before posting a long article.

And then you see them get displaced about as easily as Mark Zuckerberg at an upscale haberdashery. It hurts a little to watch these reporters being cut loose without blinking, all because of advertisers taking their business elsewhere.

We all know where that far-off land is located — online. Question: Why isn’t there a national PR campaign to help the publishing industry? Why aren’t the communications and marketing professionals of each of these newspapers getting on a phone (or in a Google hangout, for crying out loud) and figuring out what they can do together?

The publishing industry has become newspaper Darwinism, and so far, the fittest has been the Internet, leaving a copious amount of “former” journalists in its wake. Most recently, 70 jobs were cut from USA Today in what was called “a bloodbath.” The O.C. Register had a slew of buyouts recently when its knock-off brand L.A. Register failed to gain any audience. From the New York Daily News to the New Orleans Picayune, no paper is immune from the fear of getting whacked.

So, instead of trying to discover the fountain of youth and rediscover their brands online, why aren’t newspapers showing their worth in the midst of people going online to get news? Reporters tell stories and share news, but no one seems to care because the hottest, newest website has bloggers that cuss, spread rumors, spew venom, and opine on whatever is trending.

PR, you have a job to do.

This is not what hacks do. It’s what flacks do. And if you don’t do it, PR people, you won’t be doing much of anything outside of asking people with whom you network, “Would you like fries with that?” How do I know? It’s what some reporter friends of mine are doing now.

   

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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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