The Reuters Institute has today published its digital news report and it is fascinating and probably essential reading for all of us working in PR. I strongly suggest that you read this report for yourself, or at least the executive summary, because there is so much interesting information in it. But here are a few things that leapt out at me.
The smartphone is becoming the way that people access news. A whopping 66% of smartphone users are reading news on them every week. In the UK, half of the people using their smartphone to find news are regularly using the BBC app although, internationally, this is unusual. The BBC says 65% of traffic to its news website now comes from smartphones and tablets, but in general the traditional big news brands are finding it increasingly difficult to get their apps embedded in people’s lives.
Huffington Post is the second most used brand for online news globally behind Yahoo, which tops the league mainly because it is used by more than half of all Japanese people. BBC and MSN come joint third.
There is no good news here for the traditional newspaper. Online media is well established, television news is declining somewhat while social media is increasingly the place people go for their news. Newspapers are declining sharply. The picture is of course not consistent internationally, with France, Germany and Japan showing the strongest allegiance to traditional media. However, interestingly the survey suggests no discernable trend towards a willingness to pay for online news.
Whatsapp , which my friends and I use for international texting, is apparently hardly used in the US but a growing force for sharing news elsewhere, in particular in Spain, Brazil, Italy and Germany.
The numbers also tell us there has been a big increase in the consumption of online news video particularly in Spain and Denmark. A surprise to me is that in the past year Facebook has become a place people go to read news. Apparently, following changes in its algorithms and the introduction of autoplay for short videos, 41% of those surveyed used Facebook to find, read, watch and share comment on the news.
Finally, for my digest of this report, we all apparently use Twitter to find news, or filter news so we can keep up with our world, but we tend to ‘bump into news’ on Facebook, rather then going onto Facebook to find news.
What does all this mean for PR? Well we think it makes the job of PR more demanding and more complicated, which will only increase the importance of a currently under-appreciated profession. But crucially, in a noisy and complicated news environment, the need for concise, well thought through and sticky messages is greater than ever.
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