5 Important PR Challenges You Need to Overcome as the Media Landscape Shifts

Nov 20, 2023

As PR pros, we know that the media landscape changes all the time — new publications pop up, priorities shift, and upcoming tech and trends create new expectations. It can be hard to adapt to these PR challenges, but you need to keep your finger on the pulse of it all!

Every shift challenges PR pros as much as it presents an opportunity. By staying current on changes in the media landscape, you can adapt and deliver better services to your clients, generate bigger results, and grow your agency.

PR Challenges and Media Changes

Changes in the media landscape are a reality all PR pros must face. Keeping up can feel exhausting when you already have SO MUCH going on! Knowing these five KEY PR challenges and how to overcome them can help you adapt your PR strategy for today’s media climate.

Challenge #1: Major Media Layoffs

Newsrooms are always hectic, but widespread layoffs across digital and print media have made journalists (and PR pros!) more stressed than ever.

Publications of all sizes are feeling the effects of smaller newsrooms. Writers are overworked and underpaid, freelancers are left hanging, and editing staff are working with huge delays — and, sadly, it looks like the chaos won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

As a PR pro, it’s your job to support your media contacts where you can. Yes, this is a challenge for you, but it’s a bigger challenge for them!

The best way to overcome this PR challenge is to be a resource to your journalist friends. Offer yourself up as a quotable expert for last-minute stories or connect your contact to your wider network — and follow through when you do! Many writers are shifting to freelancing after getting laid off, while others are striking out on their own with Substack (we have a resource with Substacks you need to follow inside The Pitch Lab!). Keep an eye on your media contacts’ social media pages to see where they end up.

As always, only send out relevant pitches to your media contacts. Be flexible when timelines change due to rounds of layoffs or publishing delays.

Challenge #2: AI and Emerging Tech

New technology is constantly popping up across industries, but AI is the biggest tech-related PR challenge.

The negative effects of AI are already ripping across PR, but artificial intelligence isn’t going anywhere. It will get more advanced, and PR pros must shift to accommodate it. Embracing AI is the only way to overcome this challenge. Those who don’t will get left behind as the tech evolves!

How you deal with AI in your agency is up to you, but the most important thing is to do it ethically.

Text-based tools like ChatGPT and Bard scope the internet for information and spit out what they find…meaning your results could be plagiarized or seriously inaccurate. (Yikes!) You need to ensure all copy is truly your own. That means fact-checking and revising everything an AI program generates for you.

Always be transparent with your clients about your use of AI, whether you use productivity tools like Grammarly or content-generation tools like ChatGPT. Answer your clients’ questions honestly and be open about using AI in your agency.

Our Powerhouse Prompts resource will help you learn how to use AI effectively in your agency (you’ve got to work with it, not against it!).

Challenge #3: Smaller Client Budgets

Inflation hurts everyone. Clients are feeling the heat of growing costs in all areas and are shrinking their budgets accordingly. Hearing about budget cuts is scary for any entrepreneur. But, because many clients don’t understand the value of PR, it’s extra scary for PR pros who could be on the verge of losing a client.

You need to ensure your client really gets the value and impact of your services! 

Use data and statistics to show the impact of your efforts and the importance of your work to your client’s brand. They’re businesspeople; they want to see the numbers! Trace a clear line between their investment in your work and the results of your efforts to show them the power of PR.

Even when clients understand the power of PR and want to keep their retainer active, budget cuts can still be a HUGE PR challenge. In these cases, try to be flexible where you can. 

Think critically about what services you offer and which services your clients need. Are there any services in your retainer that your client isn’t using? Cut them out to reduce their retainer price. You may even offer à la carte services to clients so they only pay for exactly what they need.  

Related: How to Use Data Driven PR Pitches to Get Better Results for Your Clients

Challenge #4: Generational Marketing Shifts

Every generation has different priorities than the last, posing a PR challenge for pros looking to adapt their strategies for the next generation. With Gen Z’ers hitting their 20s, now is the time to get on board with their wants, needs, and values!

Value-based storytelling is a major trend, but Gen Z is looking for companies that live their values. They want to support brands who walk the walk, not just talk the talk! Encourage your clients to fully commit to DE&I. Be transparent in your PR campaigns, especially when involving founders or board members.

After Gen Z is Generation Alpha. The oldest members of Generation Alpha are only 13. Even though they’re still middle schoolers, their wants will make their way into your PR priorities sooner rather than later.

Whatever demographic your client is targeting, it’s essential to understand the generational preferences of your audience — whether that’s Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers or Gen Z teens. 

Challenge #5: Clients Who Want More Than Just PR

Some clients think PR will take care of every aspect of their communications, from PR and marketing to sales and social media. They want a one-stop shop for all their needs, especially when they’re dealing with smaller budgets.

When you’re in the discovery call process, solve this PR challenge early by aligning your client’s expectations with what’s possible.

Kindly set them on the right path when they expect a dozen press placements within the first month, a massive uptick in sales, or a national TV spot within just a few weeks. Be honest about what’s possible and give them client testimonials or case studies to spotlight realistic successes.

If you want to offer more services than PR, go ahead! There are tons of ways you can expand your agency.

Take stock of your team members’ strengths. Consider adding copywriting services if you have a killer writer on your team. Or, bring on freelancers to expand your offerings past your and your team’s capabilities. You could also collaborate with white-labeled services from another agency (usually a younger company or start-up) to fill out your retainer offerings.

Adaptability is the name of the game for PR pros looking to thrive when the media landscape keeps shifting. The best way to get on top of the changes is to keep up with them. The more you know about what’s happening with the media, the more equipped you will be to shift gears, adapt, and make the most of your PR challenges, no matter the media landscape!