Article: How we get our news is changing – or is it?

Author: Hugh Massam
Date: Hugh Massam

Where and when your target audience seeks out news is one key factor behind any advertising or paid media strategy, and here at KISS we look carefully at how your messages can reach them.  Clearly our consumption of news - and with it our consumption of PR and marketing messages - is changing, but some things are staying the same.

We are ever more mobile and social

  • The Financial Times, published mostly behind a paywall, revealed last week that over half of all its subscribers read the FT on mobile devices, according to their European Head of Technology Madhu Murgia.
  • News is consumed wherever, and whenever - research shows that while about 60% of people over 55 still watch traditional live TV news, only 33% of 16-24 year olds do.
  • ‘Social publishers’ like LADBible claim that they are a serious channel for news reaching a billion people globally and are apparently followed by half of all the UK’s millennials (16-35) across their social media channels, 40% of them women. 

So all of this is driving change in how stories are constructed and how news organisations use their staff. Even the FT is focusing more on moving image, Instagram stories, SnapChat and bite-size summaries of stories. The small screen rules ever more!

 Roles are changing: Twitter changes the game  

There’s an obvious, massive appetite for ‘snacking’ news and social media is where more and more of us turn for breaking news, particularly Twitter. So they are seizing that strategic position of being the social channel people go to first, by seeking to engage us for longer and become the preferred place to watch live streaming too.

Back in 2014 Twitter saw that the football World Cup final match had a record-breaking 32.5M tweets in 90 minutes. Twitter was clearly the preferred second screen for football viewers and this was before they added video capabilities.  For the 2018 World Cup they have taken things to the next stage with an exclusive World Cup livestreaming deal with Fox Sports - in preparation for this Twitter have already streamed over 1000 live broadcasts in the first quarter of this year.

Our conversations are changing 

Peter Henegan from LADBible recently told Radio 4’s media show that when they do break news, their approach is different, and he explained his definition of a social publisher: ‘’we publish knowing and anticipating that our audiences will interact with the story’’ and they claim that has a serious side. They point to a recent Cannes award win for Trash Isles, an early and successful campaign against single-use plastic, where Dame Judi Dench was appointed Queen and Al Gore as Trash Isles’ first citizen. Their campaign, which not only encouraged people to become ‘citizens’ but for the ‘Trash Isles’ to be recognized by the UN as a country - has been acknowledged by the UN as ‘highly innovative’.

…and yet some things are not changing!

In a world where the newspaper seems doomed, both the New York Times and the Washington Post claim to have more paid subscriptions today than ever. The BBC’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Fran Unsworth said recently that while ‘news snacking’ is alive and well, long-form and investigative stories are ‘read by millennials almost as much as other groups’.

Trust in your source is key  

She also added that ‘in an era of fake news, our research shows our trust ratings are higher than ever - we can trade on that’.

So in an era of fake news, being a trusted source is an increasingly important attribute for any channel. And while there is a place for the opportunistic and eye-catching (we love the Screwfix word cup campaign), consumers of all ages still follow the established principle: if what you say in a news story or paid media is of real interest to me and meets a need, I will give you more of that most precious resource: my time. 

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