Politics + PR
As we round into form across the first half of 2019, we hit upon the realization that for the next 18 months, the majority of media coverage will either be outright political or contain shades of the conversation. The election coverage cycle seems grow in duration every time around. With each new declaration of candidacy comes a barrage of think pieces, op-eds, character dissections, and policy debates. Despite the ubiquity of angles, the political season can be a tough one to tackle for PR professionals.
Most in our industry have encountered two different kinds of company leaders: those who follow the ‘whatever-it-takes’ approach to generating coverage, and those that prefer to pull back and avoid any hint of politicization. Both have merit, depending on the company. But for the PR team, the tightrope we walk is not only invisible, but seems to move unpredictably and with frequency.
During election coverage, the idea that the best journalism is about the people swings from an adage to a hollow cry. It becomes easy to draw tenuous lines between half-baked ideas and the welfare of nebulous demographics. The targets shift daily, and the daily news cycle, somehow, becomes shorter. Enterprise companies will defer to their bottom line as a reason for staying above the fray; up-and-comers will play the provocateur. It can make pitching difficult, as human-interest angles swallow technical pieces – until reporters are sick of hearing about how a software update can empower the working class.
What do we do?
It becomes even more important to pay close attention to the beats of the journalists with whom relationships are being developed. Respect that many are being bombarded every day with reactive pitches from the latest candidate snafu. Understand that most are inherent skeptics about the motive behind politically driven outreach. If you, as a PR professional, are tired of screeds and hot takes, the chances are that the journalists are too – probably more so. Remember that as we try to humanize our pitches, the person on the other end is looking for that same consideration.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen quite a bit of movement on the media front. As we speed toward the summer months, make sure to double check where that reporter is before reaching out. You can’t trust the media contact aggregator platforms to keep up in real time, so be sure to do your due diligence.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the recent media on the move.
Media on the Move
- San Francisco Chronicle: Melia Robinson has left Business Insider for the San Francisco Chronicle and now focuses on tech culture and labor issues there.
- New York Times: Sapna Maheshwari is now covering retail for the Times with a focus on brands, how they are navigating Amazon, the way ways consumers shop, and more.
- New York Times: A new weekly newsletter about the economy starts under Paul Krugman’s leadership.
- Forbes: Dan Woods, Forbes contributor, will be stepping away from regular contributions to focus on his new company, Evolved Media, and to write more regularly for The Register.
- Washington Business Journal: After 27 years, longtime photographer Joanne Lawton is retiring.
- Washington Business Journal: Washington Biz Journal has also hired Alex Koma to cover development as a reporter
- Vanity Fair: Jon Kelly, co-founder of the publications business and media site The Hive, is stepping down.
- Facebook: Chief Product Officer and key company executive Chris Cox announced he’ll be leaving the company. Javier Olivan will now oversee the process of integrating Facebook’s apps.
- Wall Street Journal: Samuel Rubenfield is named editor of the Kharon Brief, a report on global security.
- New York Magazine: In an effort to restructure company resources, the magazine recently cut 16 of its staff and freelancers.
- Seattle Times: Business Journalist Suzanne LaViolette had retired after 27 years at the paper.
- Wall Street Journal: Editor Matt Murray and Editor of Newsroom Strategy Louise Story announced the creation of additional newsroom departments and posting of over three dozen new jobs.
- Bloomberg: Mike Dorning, deputy White House editor since 2016, now oversees the ag beat for the publication.
- Politico: Nicole Gaudiano joins Politico’s education team, covering K-12 policy, in a move from USA Today.
- CNBC: CNBC hired Kif Leswing as a staff reporter covering Apple and the broader hardware industry.
- Crunchbase News: Natasha Mascarenhas now covers venture capital and technology news for the publication.
- Vice Media: Vice cut 10 percent of its 2,500 person staff in an effort to reduce costs and earn a profit. CEO Nancy Dubuc succeeded Vice’s founder Shane Smith last May.
- CBS Corp: Previously at Edelman, PMK*BNC and Ketchum, Rick McCabe has stepped into the role of VP of Corporate Communications at CBS Corp.
- Disney: Kevin Brockman, Disney’s Executive VP of Global Communications since 2008, will exit the company once the acquisition of a major part of Fox’s assets is complete.
- Boston Herald: Kathleen McKiernan has left the Boston Herald in pursuit of a career outside of journalism altogether.
- Huffington Post: The entire HuffPost Opinion section, with editor Chloe Angyal at its helm, has been eliminated.
- Ziff Davis B2B: MarTech Advisor, HR Technologist, and other outlets are now consolidated into one brand, Ziff Davis B2B.
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