It turns out I spend better than 90 percent of my waking hours looking at screens – two computer screens, a laptop screen, my iPhone screen, my GPS screen and my TV screen. It honestly never registered with me before.
But then I read the Pew Research Center’s State of News Media 2012, an annual report on the state of American journalism, and realized I am part of the growing trend of increased news consumption via multiple electronic mediums that include laptops, tablets and smartphones. Far from withering on the vine, journalism is on the cusp of its next great incarnation.
As a former journalist, I’m thrilled to know more American’s are following the news. Of particular interest to me was the fact that social media is playing a role (small but growing) in driving news consumption. Every shared Facebook or Twitter link, every news aggregation app (i.e., News.me, Trove, etc.), introduces the digital native generation to the life blood of journalism – news content. Even TV news has seen a slight uptick in media consumption, and CNN, CBS and several other acronyms enjoying increased brand awareness have YouTube, Apple and others to thank for this largely surprising development.
Another impressive factoid from this study included nearly 30 percent of Americans now receiving their news content via a mobile device. By the time my 2-year-old niece is old enough to read a newspaper, she will likely join a majority of Americans who, at that time, will access the content of many of today’s traditional print media favorites via her iPad 12.
In the meantime, public relations professionals have a distinct opportunity to play a key role in how journalism and content sharing develop. With, for example, 70 percent of Facebook users accessing news via links shared by their friends and family, content marketing is only going to grow in stature – as long as that content is relevant, timely and trustworthy. Much like consumer product reviews, content shared via social networks has the added halo effect of trust from the person who initially shared it. Brands with genuine stories to tell, and those that cultivate their audience, will be at the forefront of the evolving public relations landscape. Where PR pros once only engaged journalists, we now must look to bloggers, iJournalists, influencers, social luminaries and – most importantly – the consumer in general. The good news is this: the news space is growing, more people are paying attention to good, quality content, and the opportunities are boundless for those willing to embrace them.
I’m pretty sure I’m right. In about 18 years, I’ll Skype with my niece to see if she agrees with the prediction I’ve made here.