Orlando Sentinel Closing Downtown Office a Sign of the Times for Dwindling Newsrooms, Highlights Need for Robust Content Strategy to Reach News Consumers

Earlier this month, The Orlando Sentinel announced that it is closing its downtown headquarters, a building it has called home for nearly 70 years.

Orlando Sentinel closes downtown office

After careful deliberation, we have decided to permanently vacate our Orange Avenue office,” Publisher and General Manager Nancy Meyer said in an article posted to the paper’s web site.

A Tribune Publishing spokesman added that under the current pandemic, “there was no clear path forward in terms of returning to work.”

The Sentinel’s announcement is just the latest in a long line of newsroom closures and other related attrition at media outlets across the country. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, newsroom employment at U.S. newspapers has dropped by around half since 2008.

So how do marketers continue to reach readers in an age of shrinking newsrooms?

Bloggers, influencers, and reporters/editors at smaller outlets – While it’s true that it’s increasingly difficult to land above-the-fold coverage, that doesn’t mean you need to abandon your media relations approach. Instead, shift your focus to bloggers, influencers, and reporters/editors at smaller outlets. There are so many niche publications out there now and some influencers have even taken on the look and feel of news media outlets. Focus your efforts on these niche publications with high-quality, targeted content. They typically don’t have full newsrooms themselves and often welcome contributed content.

Develop your own content and leverage your social media channels as a platform – Bypass media channels and develop your own content and then post your content to your social media channels. For the most part, your followers have already opted in to see your content and will welcome seeing longer-form content than is available in a typical social media post. When they do that, they’ll land on your website, which will enable you to remarket to them later. Don’t forget to consider social media advertising as part of this strategy. According to Hubspot, organic reach began plummeting in 2012, and even back in 2014, brands risked missing out on up to 94 percent of their audience without boosting their social media posts with paid advertising

Sponsored content – Consider a sponsored content program. Tools like Outbrain and Taboola can drive your content to a variety of web sites, including tier-one media outlets. Another alternative is to put your content over one of the tier-one wire services as a feature story. Wire services aren’t just for press releases anymore and they also can develop multi-media options for you to deliver your content to your audience.

Develop a brand journalism strategy – Can’t get the media to cover your news? Develop a brand journalism strategy and cover your company news as if you were the journalist. Coca Cola was one of the early pioneers of this approach back in 2012 and its effort drew viewership from its audience and accolades from industry pundits.

If you’re experiencing challenges in getting your news into the hands of your audience, consider partnering with an experienced public relations or full-service integrated marketing firm.