Consumers no longer ‘read by the rules’
As a person with an insatiable appetite for all forms of news as well as love for a good statistic, it didn’t take me long to devour the recent Reuters Institute report on the state of global digital media.
Now, anyone working in the PR industry knows more about the media and audience consumption habits that you could ever imagine there is to know. Given this, I was surprised to read the report and discover many new things. In fact, there are some important lessons in there for anyone working in the communications industry.
The (slow) rise of video
For me, the most startling statistic was that over half of those questioned did not consume video news. Just as ‘content is king’ was the marketing phrase of 2016, video as a priority medium to reach consumers is the trend of 2017. I still believe that video plays a vital part in the communications mix, and that it will grow in importance, but there is an important lesson here not to ignore traditional media formats at the expense of jumping on the ‘new and exciting’ bandwagon.
Shares are down
Social engagement has become the holy grail for many brands, and the bad news is that sharing is down in almost every country. In the UK, just 22% of respondents said they shared news on social networks, while social media is only the main news access point for those under 24 years old. Social remains a key tool in a brand’s toolbox, but these stats mean that communicators need to take some time to reflect on whether social media is truly right for their brand, all the time.
No one believes what they read
Trust in the media is at its lowest levels in many places. The UK has trust levels of just 25%, with the majority of news outlets considered to be overtly politically biased. The polarisation of the media seems to reflect the general political feeling of the country; the UK is a prime example where, post-Brexit, most newspapers are considered to have a left or right-wing leaning. This has led to a perception of unreliability; at the two ends of the scale the BBC is considered most reliable (70%) while The Guardian was only considered reliable by 21% of those asked.
We all know that trust has to be earned, and this goes for brands as well as the media. It is now even more important for us to work with our clients and advise them on the importance of authenticity and transparency.
What does this all mean for the communications sector?
Perceptions of the media have changed beyond recognition, social is not always the way forward and video is still a growing area (albeit, with great potential). This all means that the comms sector has a big job ahead, and must remain flexible in the face of fast changing trends in consumer and business media habits. It also represents some very exciting opportunities to work with clients and senior teams to imbue real business purpose into brands and to be much smarter about reaching a diverse audience who no longer ‘read by the rules’.