The Scoop: Layoffs come for both legacy and new media outlets

Plus: Sam Altman’s masterful dodging; advertisers don’t like being told to go (expletive) themselves.  

Layoffs are hitting media outlets again.

In a familiar but still depressing end of year rite of passage, media outlets are laying off staff. 

Condé Nast, which owns a diverse portfolio of high-end publications, will lose 5% of its staff, or about 300 people, Variety reported. Vox Media, which owns The Verge and New York magazine, will cut 4% of jobs. At the beginning of the year, it laid off 7% of staffers, making 2023 a particularly brutal year for the company.  

A spokesperson for Vox told Variety that the layoffs would be concentrated in a few areas – editorially, they’ll most impact and animal-centric vertical The Dodo.  

This reflects continued turmoil in advertising and the need to build even more loyal audience relationships given the increasing volatility of search and social platforms, among other factors,” the spokesperson said.  

It’s currently unclear exactly which segments of Condé Nast will be affected, though Puck media reporter Dylan Byers tweeted that The New Yorker and Vanity Fair will see cuts.  




Why it matters: 

PR professionals and the media have a symbiotic relationship. While sometimes contentious, both professionals benefit from the other. And losing journalists is always a blow for those working to get earned media. On a personal level, many PR pros used to work in journalism, and it’s hard not to feel a twinge seeing that profession continue to shrink. 

Strategically, it all underscores the need to expand our definition of “earned media.” The days of solely pitching to large, established companies for coverage are dwindling if they aren’t already gone.  

By all means, keep pitching to Vox and Condé Nast media. But cast your net wider. Pitch to podcasts, to YouTubers, to LinkedIn personalities, to TikTokers, to trade media and blogs. Create your own brand journalism. Find your audience and develop new strategies. 

Because unfortunately, the climate for earned media keeps getting more and more challenging. 

Editors Top Picks 

  • In the least surprising news of the day, Elon Musk telling advertisers to ”go f**k yourself” is not enticing brands to bring their money back to X. The New York Times reports that six marketing agencies they spoke to recommend staying away from advertising on the platform, while some are advocating not posting anything there, even organically. Besides the reputational risks of having one’s ad shown alongside extremist content, Musk is just being, well, rude. “Businesses are simply full of people, and people like to be treated well, respected and dealt with dignity,” Steve Boehler, founder of Mercer Island Group, told the Times. 
  • Sam Altman, the on-again, off-again CEO of OpenAI, gave an interview with The Verge about the chaos of the last few weeks – but repeatedly declined to answer the question of why the OpenAI board fired him in the first place. The reporter tried his very best to get answers out of Altman, but in a masterful of media training, Altman gracefully evaded them all and put the onus back on the board. These questions will need answers in time if OpenAI is to move forward, but Altman is leaning into an official investigation to give shape to those answers. He likely would not have returned if he expected that investigation to go against him, but his answers allow him to take the high road and begin to get back to the work of generative AI.  
  • The NBA needed a way to increase viewership for its In-Season Tournament. So they developed unique uniforms for each team as well as bright – some might say garish – court color schemes. The gambit has worked, with viewership up 15-20% year over year, depending on the network, CNN reported. The move away from traditional hardwood courts isn’t without criticism, but even haters admit they work: “Not a fan of the courts, although it was a brilliant marketing idea,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. Sometimes you have to go big and bold to grab attention. 

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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