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There are now more than 6 PR pros for every journalist

PR-Outnumber-Journalists

Source: Muck Rack

It's not exactly breaking news to say the journalism industry -- and by extension media relations and PR -- are in a state of flux. However, new employment data from the US Department of Labor illustrates just how dramatically the media relations landscape has continued to shift.

As journalist Mike Rosenberg explained in a 2016 piece for Muck Rack, if you search terms like “journalism” or “reporter,” in a job search, you’re more likely to find a list of jobs that have virtually nothing to do with news or news production.

When that piece was published just two years ago, there were nearly 5 PR professionals for every single reporter, double the rate from the decade before.

Today, that ratio has increased even further, to nearly 6 PR pros for every journalist.

And this trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Full time journalism employment continues to decline

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Survey, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped 23% between 2008 and 2017.

Looking specifically at news reporters, photographers, videographers and editors, jobs across print, broadcast and digital media fell from 114,000 to just around 88,000. Nearly a quarter of jobs in the industry gone in less than 10 years. Let that sink in.

The total number of newspaper employees in the country fell a whopping 45% during the same timeframe, dropping from 71,000 workers to just 39,000 in 2017. According to the Pew Research Center, 36% of the largest newspapers across the U.S. experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018.

As news publications search for new business models and paths to monetization, employment continues to decrease.

The decline impacts pay, too

On the other hand, the PR industry continues to grow, not only when it comes to the total number of available opportunities, but also compensation.

Back in 2000, the pay gap between the PR pros and reporters was just over $6,000. In our last update published in 2016, journalists made an average of $50,970 annually, while PR professionals earned around $65,830.

Both industries saw a bump in average pay in 2017, but while the increase for journalists was relatively mild, going up to $51,500, PR pros saw a more prominent increase to $67,990.

Pay for journalists and PR pros as of 2017

PR pros: $67,990

Journalists: $51,500

Today, public relations professionals are making on average $16,000 more annually than their journalism counterparts.

With a figure like that, it’s easy to see why many former reporters are moving into related fields like content marketing, media relations and digital marketing. There are still plenty of opportunities for journalists to tell stories, inform the public and chronicle events -- just in a different capacity.

So, what does it all mean?

While PR pros have more jobs and higher salaries, it's harder than ever to get media coverage.

Well, when you outnumber journalists 6 to 1, that means the shrinking audience PR pros aim to reach (i.e. the media) is being bombarded with pitches, decreasing the chances of cutting through the noise. And unfortunately, because many pitches aren’t customized for a specific writer, some journalists reject 95 percent of the pitches they receive on a weekly basis.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means you’ll need to spend a little more time doing your prep work, starting with writing a great pitch.

[Download our free guide to crafting a winning PR pitch to increase your success rate.]

Crafting the perfect pitch isn’t the only tool in your arsenal when it comes to making sure your pitch is one of the 5 percent that’s actually accepted. Finding the right journalists to pitch is just as important (if not more important) than writing something amazing they’ll want to read.

No matter what type of media relations you’re doing, whether you’re in-house representing one brand or at an agency representing 10 brands, you need a powerful and accurate database of editors and reporters at your fingertips in order to do your job effectively.

An all-in-one solution that enables you to quickly research reporters, distribute pitches and track your return can streamline your job, empowering full, end-to-end PR flow.

Learn how Muck Rack can help you accomplish more in less time and kick your PR efforts into overdrive.

Mike Schneider is the Head of Marketing for Muck Rack, where he helps to shape the company’s strategic development and growth of marketing, brand and revenue.

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