In public relations, we are often trying to convince an audience to support your position, promote or back an idea, buy a product or service, perpetuate brand loyalty, or recognize achievements of some kind.
In recent years we’ve seen the rise of companies and organizations creating and self-publishing their content, and that remains increasingly important. Nevertheless, creating and curating content is only half the battle.
The content must have an audience (your public) to be effective, and that’s where traditional news outlets come in as they already have readers, viewers and listeners.
- The Edelman Trust Barometer showed that 65% of Americans put their trust in traditional media as a reliable source of news. This is the highest-ever historical level, primarily driven by significant increases in developed markets.
- Americans continue to be more likely to get news through smartphones and other mobile devices versus desktop or laptop computers. About six out of 10 U.S. adults (57%) often get news this way, compared with 30% who more often do so on a desktop or laptop computer, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Younger adults are far more likely to often get news on a mobile device. About 72% of adults ages 18-29 often get news this way, compared with 38% among the 65+ set.
- Traditional media drives online news. More people (59%) now discover news through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media; these platforms deliver minimal information by way of headlines, video excerpts, and sound bites. Consumers are becoming more media savvy and often seek out the details and facts by clicking through links to traditional news media websites. Additional evidence of traditional media’s influence is the fact that more people are finding their way back to the network TV news—especially recently during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Based on the weekly reach (offline and online) top brands in traditional media still trump online news. Local television news, closely followed by national television news and regional or local newspapers, all rank higher than online news in the latest Reuters Digital News Report.
- In the United States, many different access routes to news content are essential to consumers–a “pick and mix” model. The models only go part way to demonstrating the complexity of access and distribution, as evidenced by looking beyond main access routes, which shows most consumers are using a combination of direct, search and social.
- Social media continues to try and strike a balance between privacy and sharing of content, as well as whose responsibility it is to identify potential misinformation or disinformation, altered images and videos. Conversely, paid journalists have a responsibility to make efforts to vet information. An interesting, but not unexpected, finding from a topical Pew Research study is that more than half of those who prefer to get news via social media (56%) have shared news they later found out was made up.
As you can see, traditional media is not dead; rather, it’s evolving to catch up with technological advancements. As media consumers—and especially as communicators, it’s up to us to find and strike a balance between speed and credible, ethical news.
PR professionals are well aware of the changing media landscape, and while we’re continually evolving our tactics, we must acknowledge that traditional media still matters. It offers a broader reach than most companies and organizations could ever have on their own. So media relations continues to play a critical part in executing a successful PR strategic plan.