The media in Canada is in crisis. On December 11, CHCH News announced it had filed for bankruptcy just before shedding dozens of jobs. Prior to that, one of Canada’s largest broadcasters Bell cut 400 positions, in November and The Toronto Star is writing editorial about its competitor’s job losses and executive pay. In this kind of media environment, it can be difficult for journalists and PR professionals to see a silver lining, but in this case it’s independent publishers.

“Independent publishers are finding success,” said Nick Taylor-Vaisey, President of the Canadian Association of Journalism. “They are finding business models that work and some are growing their teams.”

DouglasOnline publications like Canadaland, a political and media pundit outlet that breaks stories about journalism and ethics, found its audience during the recent election. And it’s not alone. The niche start-up and innovation site has expanded from a staff of 10 full-time employees in Toronto to include a full-time desk in Vancouver and is planning to do the same in Waterloo and Montreal., a community news and lifestyle site in Mississauga, is also currently hiring. The trend is clear: publishing won’t die but it does evolve.

Bigger isn’t necessarily better.

What connects all three of these publications is independence and a focused niche. For Canadaland, it’s all about news commentary, Insauga keeps its focus on the local market whereas BetaKit targets the startup community.

“We’re not producing filler content for impressions,” said Betakit’s managing editor Douglas Soltyz, who added that he isn’t aiming to be another Buzzfeed. “We don’t cover anything outside of our focus like some of the larger sites have to fill their ad impression quota.”

Publications need to farm a niche and so does PR.

The model deployed here is building a niche as a vertical and monetizing it rather than blanketing an entire industry and and selling potential reach. For public relations that means a difference between quality over quantity – you may get a lower number of media impressions in trade publication like, but you get the right eyeballs through your outreach.

If you can’t find inches in traditional media, or want a more qualified audience that could be potential customers for your brand, look for social media influencers, bloggers, or non-traditional media outlets. By broadening your definition of “publisher”, you can zero in on those niched markets that will get the press your clients want and increase results.


About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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