Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 16, 2010

Localization and Media Targeting Prove Right for Washington

Politico is a new model for journalism, and thus, for public relations people. Joel Albritton owns our ABC affiliated station WJLA, and other media properties. So here’s what happened as Albritton Communications snuck up on everyone and now dominates this media market:

  • NewsChannel 8 Albritton started a 24-hour LOCAL cable station, NewsChannel 8, recently rebranded as TBD (to be determined). The cable station launched Washington Business Tonight” and mixed local sources, federal and business leaders. It started the localization model for broadcast media.
  • Politico When Albritton’s team started Politico, most of us in public relations thought they were crazy. We already had two “hill rags” — the venerable Roll Call and the upstart The Hill – both with decent ad budgets and daily distribution on Capitol Hill. With their mix of Hill personality profiles and breaking legislative news, the market place was saturated. And repurposed its own fine political coverage.

Then Albritton grabbed up Jim VandeHei, formerly Washington Post political reporter (with a strong following). Jim is Sunday’s PRSA keynoter. Slowly but surely, broadcasting, print and online were fully integrated. Politico reporters are seen on “Good Morning Washington” program and the evening news. TBD News feeds more political talk shows and news content. is a “must read” in this town as it teases out the latest news. Reporters are now quoted by other mainstream media as sources! Politico breaks news.

The newsroom is completely without walls. There is no physical division between ABC-TV workers and Politico reporters in their cubes. I think somebody hung a banner?

Star ABC Channel 7 anchors here have flocked to WJLA-TV, including former CNN reporters, longtime anchors and even the two best weathermen in town. The dollars generated by ABC local advertising and Politico are sunk back into the organization.

Now, WJLA has the veteran broadcasters and higher ratings because of its multi-media mix.  One of my favorite columnists, Kim Hart, just went over from penning her prior business columns at the Washington Post, and then her Hillicon Valley column from The Hill.

Is this a model for future of reporting and journalism? Politico is driving home the point that there’s a great place for print, online, television and great reportage. Yes, they have kicked the hell out of traditional Hill pubs, and given Washington new venues for localization. New options.

Mike Smith, executive vice president, Gibraltar Associates, LLC, has worked for three of the top ten PR firms including Burson-Marsteller, Edelman PR Worldwide and Euro RSCG. He takes a strong lead in client management, media relations and new business initiatives. Mike also served as public affairs director of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).  Follow Mike Smith Public Affairs on Twitter at @smittyPA.

For more coverage on the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, visit PRSA Intelligence, follow #prsa_ic and the Conference blog.

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