Part 2: New Challenges with Earned Media: PR Practitioners Insight in Report

Following up our first post discussing how earned media landscape is evolving, we’re finishing our deep dive into the Public Relations Global Network’s survey of the earned media landscape.

As a quick recap, the PRGN is a network of more than 50 hand-selected public relations firms servicing key markets around the world. The group recently surveyed its 18 U.S. member firms to understand how difficult obtaining earned media has become in recent years, as well as what factors are contributing to the situation.

The insights gained for the survey provided key details on the current earned media environment, highlighting the challenges faced in national, local, and trade media.

In this blog – the second of two parts – we’ll finish sharing the survey’s findings and what implications they have for PR practitioners as we strive to secure earned media hits for our clients. To see Findings 1 to 3, visit

Finding 4: The “pay-for-play” format is becoming more commonplace.

Many more media outlets now require money before they will agree to run an organization’s news. This has had the effect of further shrinking the pool of potential outlets for bona fide earned media.

Consider these comments from PRGN agency respondents:

  • “So many media outlets – including formerly reputable ones – are simply looking for paid sponsorships, paid engagements, and similar money-generating applications.”
  • “Sometimes it seems like everything requires a paid component these days.”
  • “Greater push from outlets for paid models. More at the trade and local level than national.”
  • “More and more media outlets are wanting money for placement. Earned media is dwindling.”

Key Takeaway: It might be time to consider adding strategic paid media to the communications mix.

Today, “pay-for-play” does not necessarily carry the same negative connotation it once did. According to respondents, for some clients in certain industries, it’s nearly impossible to generate earned media any other way so broadening your scope may open some new doors.  

Finding 5: Respondents report that the shrinking pool of reporters is the top reason earned media coverage has become so difficult.

Its score of almost 6 on a 10-point scale led the next cited reason by 15% demonstrating that the shrinking pool of reporters is a leading concern of PR professionals focused on generating earned media.

Consider these comments from PRGN agency respondents:

  • “Fewer reporters – both trade and business – with less time to attend press events and trade shows makes B2B PR harder than ever.”
  • “Journalists are stretched thin and the amount of in-bound pitches from PR agencies to a diminishing pool of reporters means that sometimes even newsworthy stories get lost in the flood.”
  • “There are less reporters and they’re swamped with coverage.”

Key Takeaway: When pitching stories, think like a journalist with limited bandwidth.

Increase your chance of earned media success and help your reporter friends by providing the full story package, including bios, photos, videos and any other assets that augment what’s being discussed. Being upfront with what is available will make covering your story quick and easy.

Finding 6: Print and television were named the most difficult media categories for securing earned media coverage.

According to respondent feedback, nearly 60% cited print as one of the most difficult media categories, and 46% said television was among the most difficult. Those categories were followed by:

  • Radio – 29%
  • Podcasts – 29%
  • Social media influencers – 17%; and
  • Online – 13%.

Key Takeaway: Ensure that the news you are sharing is truly newsworthy and fits well with the outlet’s focus and format.

Stories should offer value and connection to the given publication’s audience. Take the time to ensure your outreach is customized to the media outlet’s and the reporter’s needs … and avoid company-focused marketing pieces at all costs.

For a copy of the study results report, email us at

Note: Special thanks to our Philadelphia-based PRGN affiliate, Buchanan Public Relations, for leading this insightful study.

Author: Adriana Van Duyn

Adriana is an account supervisor at Bianchi PR with more than 18 years of B2B PR experience representing clients across the automotive, mobility and industrial sectors. She has also assisted clients on numerous PACE Award entries.

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