State of the Media 2018 and the Future of PR

If I had to guess, I would say I visit no less than 10 different digital news sites a day. I check everything from getting the latest tech insights on Axios, to learning new business dealings from The Wall Street Journal and getting an aggregate view of the top news of the day from Feedly and Digg – okay, Digg has funny videos, too.

Future of PR includes a mix of digital and print media.

Yet, it appears I’m not the only one visiting multiple sites and reaping the benefits of the rapidly growing digital news landscape. According to the Pew Research Center’s most recent State of the Media report, roughly nine-in-ten adults in the U.S. (93%) get at least some news online. That high percentage coincides with the decreasing print newspaper circulation – down 11% for weekday and down 10% for Sunday editions. These trends shouldn’t surprise anyone – after all, the death of print and rise of digital has been a talking point for many years.

The Future of PR lives online

From a PR and marketing perspective, the continuing trends mean that we as practitioners need to continue to pivot towards digital outlets and spaces. With the readership of print sources declining, the chances of getting a simple press release announcement into a print publication are slim to none. Print publication requirements will get more stringent as they seek premium content to attract readers.

Although traditional media should still play a part in an integrated media relations strategy, it is time that we put more of a focus on digital newsrooms – specifically those of digital-native news publishers (publications that were born on the web; not legacy print publications). According to the recent Pew data, digital-native news publishers see more than 21 million unique visitors per month, whereas legacy print websites see just over 11.5 million visitors.

This presents PR practitioners and marketers with a conundrum. Publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post are supposed to be the ultimate placement publications for a PR practitioner to land a press release or interview in. But if your news doesn’t land in their print versions, is your pitching strategy effective?

Economics of the news

The “news industry” is just that – an industry, meaning that any publishing business operating within it needs to make money in order to be profitable. Traditional media used to rely on subscriptions and ad dollars for revenue, but times have changed now that so much online content from an overwhelming number of sources is available to access without a digital subscription – hence the proliferation of online advertising. Does the Future of PR mean the end for print media?

Though non-digital advertising revenue is still higher than in digital advertising, the gap is closing, and fast. In 2017, 44% of all advertising was digital, a whopping 7% increase from just the previous year. The quick change to digital is in part to online publishers being able to provide greater knowledge to companies (and marketers) about who their ads are targeting.

Another positive to PR practitioners and marketers is that with the increase of digital readership and online advertising, digital-native newsroom staffs are growing. In 2017, 13,250 people worked as reporters, editors, photographers or videographers in the newsrooms of digital-native outlets, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means more eyeballs for our pitches and pleas for coverage.

Conversely, print newsroom staffs are decline. Roughly 39,210 people worked on print publication staffs, down 45% from 2004, according to Pew data.

Time to capitalize

To say it frankly, if you, your agency, your clients, or your company is not focused on digital news outlets, you are out of the news loop. The trends are clear, digital-native publications are becoming the new standard for media coverage. To make the most of this change, head to www.futureofpr.org/ to learn how you can #MakeNews in the digital era.

 

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