This week, the Gray Lady announced that she will eliminate 100 newsroom jobs by year’s end. Cuts and closings are old hat by now – but have you considered how much more challenging the media environment has become for PR professionals in recent years?  If your approach hasn’t changed since 90210 was in its first run, then consider this:

In the past few years, the Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, and almost every other large daily have cut their newsroom staff.  Outlets have consolidated editorial beats and many big-bang publications that could be relied on for delivering impression-heaven have gone extinct.

The implications are terrible for public relations practitioners: fewer outlets and fewer pages mean fewer stories – and fewer opportunities. Contrast this with the rapid proliferation of both full-time and part-time PR practitioners and you get more people pitching fewer top-tier targets.  Add that to the fact that those media targets are overworked and underpaid and you have an incredibly hostile media landscape.

The trick to surviving in this environment is remembering that only the strongest pitches survive.  As the old expression goes, you have to lead a horse to water if you want him to drink.  That means that pitches have to not only provide a great idea, but have to contain all of the elements editors need to assemble a piece – headlines, newshooks, supporting data, photos, compelling quotes all have to be part of the package.

Though this will come across as self-interested, PR surveys create a powerful advantage in such an environment.  Not only do they distinguish your pitch from the competition, they make pitches more credible by providing the hard data editors need to turn a story idea into ink.   They make it possible to offer a complete story – not just a concept.

Check back in the coming weeks as we begin a series of posts explaining the keys to killer PR surveys.