AI, credibility and the impact on PR: the state of the media in 2023

Media relations, or building relationships with journalists, is often critical to most public relations programmes. But what issues do journalists face, and how does this impact the PR strategies companies pursue? 

Cision, the global media monitoring and measurement business, surveyed 3,000 journalists globally to find out. 

The Global State of the Media Report 2023 reveals that the media industry faces several challenges. These threats range from maintaining credibility and declining advertising revenue to the rise of social media and influencers. 

While some of these trends are not new, the broader information environment in which the media works has become ever more complex. 

But despite such challenges, journalists remain committed to their core values of accuracy, fairness, and independence. Moreover, Cision finds that PR practitioners help the media access credible information and tell the stories that matter.

Credibility in the age of AI 

According to the survey, maintaining credibility as a trusted news source is the greatest challenge facing journalists today. 

In an age of fake news and ever-sophisticated AI tools, it is no surprise maintaining such credibility is so vital. Just look at how the image of the Pentagon, the home of the US Department of Defence, on fire spread across social media.  

But maintaining credibility goes hand-in-hand with two other significant challenges. First, media outlets suffer from a lack of personnel and resource. Second, they face ever-declining advertising revenues. 

Doing more with less 

In short, journalists have to do more with less while facing an increasingly demanding and sceptical audience. As Vice Media Group’s recent bankruptcy filing highlights, we’re seeing more and more outlets from across the media spectrum struggling to remain financially viable, with many winding up operations as a result. 

At the same time, the rise of social media and influencers continues to pose significant challenges, as it has done for some time. Social media makes it easier for people to share news and information, leading to a decline in the influence of traditional media.

Influencers often use their platform to promote products and services. However, influencers are not always reliable sources of information, and they can sometimes spread misinformation. The polarization of the media landscape has compounded such issues and made it more difficult for people to find accurate and unbiased information. 

The currency of data 

Another significant finding was that 40% of journalists reported relying more on data to inform editorial strategies than previously. This data is from their own publications, such as engagement figures, alongside data from PR professionals.

Indeed, 68% of journalists said they wanted data – in the form of original research, such as trends and market information – from communications professionals. Anecdotally, this chimes with our experience – original data stories are more likely to land and secure high-quality coverage.  

But ensuring content is accurate is the number one concern for journalists, editors and organisations. 

How can PR professionals help?

Communicators and PR professionals have a role to play in supporting the work of journalists and helping to ensure they have access to accurate and unbiased information. 

We need to understand what journalists want and what they do not want. 

More than a third of journalists said they would not consider covering a product unless the story includes data showing the trends and problems the product solves for their readers. 

But journalists are also making increasing use of multimedia:

  • 77% want high-quality images
  • 43% use data visualisations 
  • 34% will use web polls or surveys 

So, by understanding what journalists want, providing them with accurate and timely information, and building relationships based on trust and respect, we can ensure we help our clients insert themselves into the narrative.