New deal to keep your eye on

Most media observers have their eyes on the wrong deal right now.

PR pros who rely on pitching local papers are throwing up their hands after a so-called “vulture” hedge fund bought Tribune Publishing and with it the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, among others.

Undoubtedly the new owners will slash newsrooms and sell off real estate, the same playbook they’ve used after acquiring 200 other publications in recent years. Advocates for civic engagement are outraged.

Here’s the thing: Outrage doesn’t help you place more coverage for your brand or clients. Evolving your media list does.

And that’s why proactive, forward-looking PR pros are keeping their eyes on the less prominent news surrounding Axel Springer’s rumored acquisition of Axios. If it goes through, that deal will offer a much bigger signal about the future of news than the inevitable consolidation of legacy newspapers.

Axel Springer is the German publisher that bought Insider in 2015. The same Insider that now reaches 375 million uniques a MONTH. Do the people who evaluate your media lists know that? Their continued focus on wilting legacy brands like the Chicago Tribune and even USA Today is costing them reach and impact.

Instead of fighting for scraps at the table of money-bleeding traditional papers, start establishing relationships with the journalist/entrepreneurs who run profitable newsletters such as Morning Brew (acquired by Axel Springer last year, hint hint) and Axios. I wrote more about this in January.

In an ideal world, more altruistic benefactor owners would emerge to save Tribune Publishing and others. Like the benevolent billionaires who bought the LA Times, Time magazine and The Atlantic. But we can’t rely on hope and charity to get our jobs done (and it’s not reassuring that those outlets are losing millions yearly).

While the media world re-orders itself, you have the opportunity to leapfrog your competition by shuffling your media list and making a bunch of new friends.

Focus on the media brands of the future . . . not the past.

This article was originally published on May 26, 2021

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