Scarcity of Mainstream Media Coverage Increase Its Value to Clients

We’ve all had those days where it feels like the media landscape is shifting beneath our feet.

The media is changing. Remember when getting a client into a major newspaper or on a prime-time news segment felt almost routine? Those days are behind us.

In many ways, that scarcity is making mainstream media coverage more desirable than ever.

Let’s explore why this is happening and what it means for you and your team.

The Shrinking Media Landscape

It’s no secret that the media landscape has been shrinking. Mainstream media outlets are downsizing, community papers are shutting down, and even the big players are working with skeleton crews. Theodora Jean, founder and managing partner of Coldwater Communications, sums it up perfectly: “There are less people to pitch to, and there are less outlets to pick up stories.”

This creates a bottleneck where fewer journalists are available to cover stories, making it harder to get your organization or clients the coverage they crave.

Why Scarcity Increases Value

So, why does this scarcity make mainstream media coverage more desirable? It’s all about perception.

As Jean points out, “The value of mainstream coverage has gone up in people’s minds while simultaneously, I would argue, the reach of that coverage has gone down.”

Clients still see mainstream media as the gold standard. They believe a mention in a major newspaper or on a national news broadcast carries more weight than a feature in a niche publication or a blog.

The Perception Game

Clients are often old-school in their thinking. They’ve grown up with the idea that mainstream media equals credibility. When you pitch them a spot in a niche blog or a specialized podcast, they might respond with, “That’s great, but where’s the mainstream stuff?”

You can show them all the numbers you want in an effort to demonstrate how the niche blog has overtaken that ‘mainstream’ outlet in reach, but it might not sway them.

Strategizing in a Changed World

Given this landscape, how should you adapt your strategies? Here are a few tips:

Diversify, but Don’t Ignore Mainstream

While it’s crucial to explore niche publications and new media, don’t abandon mainstream outlets. Use them strategically to maximize their impact. When you do land a mainstream hit, leverage it across other platforms to amplify its reach.

Set Realistic Expectations

Help your clients understand the current media environment. Explain why it’s harder to get into major outlets and discuss the value of a diversified media strategy that includes mainstream, niche, and owned media.

Leverage the PESO Model

Incorporate the PESO model (Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media) into your strategy. This holistic approach popularized by Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks ensures you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Jean highlights this model as essential, especially when mainstream media coverage is hard to come by.

Focus on Storytelling and Relevance

With fewer journalists to pitch to, your story needs to stand out. Focus on creating compelling narratives that are timely and relevant to current trends. Media monitoring can help identify hot topics where your clients’ expertise can shine.

The Upside of Niche and New Media

While clients may initially be skeptical, niche and new media offer unique advantages. These platforms often cater to highly engaged and targeted audiences. For instance, if you’re promoting a tech startup, a feature in a leading tech blog could drive more qualified leads than a brief mention in a general business newspaper.

The scarcity of mainstream media coverage has undoubtedly increased its perceived value among clients—regardless of whether or not its actual value has increased. Your job is to navigate this new landscape, balancing traditional and modern media to deliver the best results for your organization or clients.

By setting realistic expectations, leveraging diverse media strategies, and focusing on storytelling, you can thrive even as the landscape shifts.

Next time you’re strategizing for a client, remember that while the mainstream media landscape may be shrinking, there’s value in scarcity. That’s a golden opportunity for those of us who know how to play the game.