Today’s PR landscape and media relations are far different from what they once were. According to Pew Research, newsroom employment has dropped 23% since 2008. Through her 20 years in the public relations field, Nicole Conley, media director at Tanis Communications, has seen this fast-paced industry continue to evolve.

With the move to digital media, there’s been many changes. Shrinking newsrooms and staffs have made more room for content from industry professionals and thought leaders. Many tech publications have gone out of business, leaving tech journalists to move around a lot these days or freelance for multiple publications. Journalists are also under tremendous pressure to meet page view quotas. With this landscape shift, it’s no surprise that media relations professionals must practice cultivating new forms of relationships and communications. “You can’t only build relationships with the traditional media,” says Conley. “You have to use every channel and opportunity available: earned, paid, owned and shared. Be in touch with all the types of media makers — influencers, bloggers, journalists, freelancers and pundits. It’s also very important to have a strong social voice.”

Our digital lives consume content instantly, rapidly, and continuously. For instance, each day in 2011 saw 27 million pieces of content. Today, we have over 3 billion active social media users. “In order to work with a media that has completely gone digital, and completely different, you have to learn new ways to engage with them,” said Conley. “The same way journalists are learning new ways to engage with their audiences.”

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This also shifts previous mindsets of client coverage. As more businesses fight for exposure through earned media, others fight to be heard by utilizing the expertise of their executives. An increasing number of publications welcome contributed articles, which Conley suggests keeping in mind for clients, “Editors like it because they are getting an industry expert and the audience gets a new perspective.”

Her recommendation to young PR professionals? Be well-researched, “A good, solid press list is so worth it. You’ll have a core group of industry veterans you know, then continue updating it with contributors who you then make new relationships with,” advises Conley. Do your homework on the publications. Understand not only their audiences but take the time to really read through their content. Make sure you create and pitch compelling story lines because reporters do not have to cover your client just because they have news. Reporters have an obligation to their readers to provide them with thought-provoking content that garners a high number of page-views. Once you do reach out, it’s about finding the balance among confidence, persistence and respect.

Nicole Conley is celebrating her 5th year as Media Director at Tanis Communications and 20 years in the High Tech PR Industry. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from San Francisco State University.

By Rachael Paul, Digital Specialist