The decline of UK journalism (and what it means for your business)

An independent review revealed this week that UK journalism is in freefall.

Meanwhile, if you have a business and you'd like it to grow, the press is an obvious place to look to build awareness.

But you need to understand the state of the press and the pressures journalists are now under, in order to communicate effectively with them.

What the review found

The independent review into the future of high-quality journalism in the UK, chaired by Dame Frances Cairncross, revealed that:

- Total press industry revenues declined by more than half over the last ten years
- The number of full-time journalists has fallen by over 25% since 2007
- A quarter of all regional and local newspapers have closed in the past decade

These stats are not good news for journalists or, indeed, the press industry as a whole. But what do they mean for the average business owner? Here are three ways you can leverage this knowledge of the press sector to help grow your business.

1. Take the journalist's perspective and provide them with the finished article

When seeking press for our businesses, it's natural to start from our own viewpoint and provide the kind of message that will be best for our business. In the past, there would be journalists ready to receive a press release, look for a possible story and turn it around into something interesting for their readers. Now, you need to do that work for them for your story to stand a chance of being covered.

Less journalists at the news desk means less time for the remaining few to faff about with stories that are clearly promotional, or provide no real value on interest. However, those businesses that do take the time to create something which can be cut and pasted and immediately work will be rewarded with great coverage.

Newspapers can rarely afford to send out photographers

2. Save publications time and money with a superb photoshoot

Whereas even local press would regularly be able to 'send out a photographer' to do a shoot on demand, this is less and less the case for even national papers. Meanwhile, with iPhones able to provide excellent high res photos businesses all have the ability to create and send a good set of photos which help to illustrate their story.

Get clued up on the kind of images your target publications tend to use - usually interesting pictures that help to tell a story - and get going creating them on behalf of those publications, so they don't have to.

3. Make news happen

While journalists used to have more time to put into seeking out the latest stats or compiling in-depth reports on specific industries, this kind of time-consuming, investigative reporting, like everything else in journalism, has far less budget than it used to. Make use of this knowledge by doing the legwork yourself.

Look at wider trends in your industry and provide journalists with sets of data and inventive imagery they simply don't have the time or money to find or create for themselves. As long as the pieces of content your business produces are genuinely interesting to readers, the results you'll gain via a grateful press are likely to far outstrip the time and money you've put into creating them.