PR trends always start with media trends; watch what news outlets are doing, and you’ll uncover opportunities for coverage.
One of the biggest factors to watch is distribution—where and how are publishers sharing their stories and where and how are those stories found? Will they be seen in search, social networks, inboxes—or not seen at all, but heard?
The answers to these questions can dramatically increase the reach of media coverage, and help you get in front of the audiences most important to your business.
Here are six factors shaping today’s media landscape:
1. Voice assistants are speaking up.
One estimate says 37 percent of the U.S. will own a voice assistant by the end of the year, and Alexa, Google and Siri are becoming go-to sources for news, especially first thing in the morning.
- Thousands of media outlets have created skills for the Amazon Echo.
- Google Home allows you to customize the news sources you hear after saying “Tell me the news.”
- Siri will play you daily news podcasts from NPR, the BBC, and other sources.
- Spotify is launching Spotlight, an audio newscast with content from Buzzfeed, Refinery 29, Cheddar and other outlets.
The takeaway: Podcasts and other audio forms of news make good targets as voice assistants arrive in homes, cars and elsewhere. This isn’t just an earned media strategy either—many companies are developing their own skills for voice assistants as we speak.
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2. Facebook’s news feed changes have triggered new strategies.
2018 started off with a burst of announcements about the future of the Facebook news feed.
- Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would prioritize friends-and-family content over that of news organizations and brands.
- Facebook unveiled that it would gauge the trustworthiness of different news outlets with a two-question survey.
- Zuckerberg wrote that Facebook is prioritizing local news.
While these announcements are already upending the media industry in some ways, they’re really just the final nail in the coffin for organic Facebook reach.
Facebook traffic to publishers declined throughout 2017, dropping from 40 percent in January 2017 to 24 percent in January 2018.
Many publishers had already begun diversifying their traffic. The move will hurt some more than others, and will force both publishers and brand managers to develop new strategies, but at this point we have to see what effects the changes have before running in any one direction.
The takeaway: Don’t panic, but keep an eye on this story.
3. Push notifications are getting more engaging.
While you may no longer see a teaser to a story in a Facebook feed, publishers are already experimenting with push notifications to your phone, as Digiday reports.
- The Wall Street Journal now allows its app users to get push notifications for nine topics, up from three.
- USA Today is using pictures, video and GIFs to increase referral traffic from push notifications.
- The Guardian is testing different fonts and styles.
- CNN will soon add rich media to its notifications.
This is all in the name of grabbing your attention and moving you to click and read more, and as Digiday points out, the audience is captive: If you download the app and enable notifications and don’t turn them off, you’re likely interested in the content
The takeaway: Publishers are working to build audiences that won’t vanish with a tweak to the Facebook algorithm, and push notifications—like email—give them exactly that. Keep an eye on which media (and which tactics) succeed.
4. Twitter and LinkedIn are driving traffic and engagement.
With Facebook taking a step back from promoting news, Twitter and LinkedIn are stepping up to fill the vacuum.
- Twitter is driving more engagement, according to data from SocialFlow. After doubling the character count of a tweet from 140 to 280, tweets longer than 140 were getting twice as many likes and retweets as those below the original character count.
- As Facebook’s referral traffic continues to decline, Twitter is also driving more traffic to publishers, extending the reach of stories.
- NewsWhip recently examined engagement for top publications among the C-suite. While the New York Times and Washington Post are two of the top publications read by the C-suite, articles on Harvard Business Review got more engagement than either, and The Economist had more engagement than the Post.
- The picture changes even more on LinkedIn, where Forbes got the lion’s share of engagements, with more than 20 million. Second place was CNBC with a little more than 8 million engagements.
The takeaway: Know what publishers and platforms will get you the most visibility based on your topic and audience.
5. Email newsletters are continuing their growth.
Email newsletters are still gaining momentum for publishers.
- The New York Times has more than 13 million subscribers to 50 email newsletters and counting.
- The Washington Post is adding two newsletters—one on cyber security and defense, the other on technology—to its growing stable.
- Axios celebrated the one-year anniversary of its “smart brevity” email newsletters in January by expanding its coverage, opening a contributor network, and taking steps into video.
- MIT Technology Review launched a new AI-focused newsletter.
- Quartz, long a champion of email, is publishing around big events, like CES and Davos, and has seen big success with its Quartz Obsession newsletter.
The takeaway: It’s 2018, but email is still a great way to get a story out. Targeting a publication with a strong newsletter can extend the reach of your story to an engaged audience.
6. Video remains as engaging as ever.
While some publishers are second-guessing the much-heralded “pivot to video” that swept through media in 2017, it’s still a powerhouse.
- CES showed how influential outlets like CNET and Digital Trends once again set up pop-up studios to cover technology in depth.
- Twitter-based live news shows, from Cheddar, the pioneer, to Buzzfeed’s AM to DM and Bloomberg’s TicToc, are reaching millions of viewers daily.
They join many outlets focused on creating engaging visual content through broadcast, live streaming and social videos.
The takeaway: As publishers look for visual stories to tell, think through how you can present your product or service in the best light and which members of your team would succeed on camera.
Mike Lizun is Senior Vice President of Public Relations at Gregory FCA, focusing on earning media for clients using digital storytelling tools, content, technology, and key media relationships. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.