A few years ago a particularly mean-spirited sort of flak liked to buy me lunch just so they could laugh at the imminent demise of newspapers. Enjoy that glass of wine, they’d say, because it is the last one I’m ever going to have to buy you.
Then they’d cackle, like the evil witches they are.
Ah, I’d say, but when all the journalists have been fired, your clients will twig they don’t need PR people. So then you’ve had it too.
We’d sit in mutual misery, scowling at each other.
Things look an awful lot better lately. There’s lots of bad news (the end of the world via Brexit, Trump or climate change is all good for sales).
More than that, the industry is showing signs of figuring stuff out.
Yesterday FT editor Lionel Barber tweeted that the paper now has more than 1 million readers.
The Guardian has been derided for seeming to beg for subscribers, but has seen many hundreds of thousands of people willing to give it money to support its work.
My shop, the Evening Standard, enjoys a monopoly position as the only player in London and is doing just fine.
There is even a new outlet populated with Fleet St types, Tortoise Media, launching today.
All papers are making a decent fist of getting their websites functional. And the only complaint I could make about The Times is that the mobile app is so good I don’t need to buy the paper.
Bloomberg and other more specialist wire services seem to be splashing the cash around in search of new recruits, just judging by some recent high profile moves.
At papers, hack cut backs continue. Those that survive are expected to cover wider beats. But all that means is that we need PR more than we’d like to admit.
So, whether we deserve it or not, it looks like flaks and hacks will be around a while longer.