I think that the BBC is a pretty amazing organisation… most of the time. With the likes of David Attenborough gracing our screens and the thrilling period dramas such as Call the Midwife, the BBC provides its audience with the usual home comforts that we expect from our public service broadcaster.
However, as of late I’ve been scrolling through the online news section of the BBC, and aside from the constant bombardment of political news, I often find myself coming across articles that really don’t belong on the BBC homepage and barely constitute ‘news’ - ‘Why Ch-Ch-Chaka Khan gets annoyed by her greeting’ and ‘fan smashes his TV when his team loses’ are just two examples. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy light-hearted, funny content as much as the next person but the BBC and for that fact, many other national publications, were often my first point of call when I wanted news and analysis on the hard hitting issues that face the UK and the rest of the world.
And this got me thinking, why have our news outlets started to prioritise softer stories in comparison to the hard-hitting journalism we used to see? The reason? Our consumer behaviour has changed.
Nowadays, on average, we crave quick, clickbait type content – think Daily Mail rather than the Economist - that captures our attention while scrolling on our phones or through our social media feeds. As our lives become busier, consumers demand easy to access content that can be read or viewed quickly and simply, which is why video and social media are becoming increasingly popular and long form content is struggling.
As we start to see the media landscape changing and publications veering away from their traditional role in the market, what does this mean? Here are my three top tips on how you can adapt in light of these changes:
- Do your research — Understand your audience. Publications that may have been a tier one media target three years ago, may not cover the same content today. When planning your campaign strategy, do your due diligence and ensure your in-house team or agencies have researched which publications will attract your audience. Keep in mind how these publications may have changed and whether they’re still relevant to your business. As the media landscape becomes more diverse, understanding which publications to target has become even more critical.
- Stay educated — Ok, so you’ve done your research. Great. Now, stick with it. As PRs and marketers, we are constantly monitoring the media for news hijacking opportunities or current trends to integrate into our campaigns. Have your agencies monitor the news and ensure they take note of which publications are focussing on what and how they’re generating their own content. Do they focus on long form or clickbait-type content? Are they primarily using images and videos, or perhaps they are now solely an online-only publication?
As more and more media outlets struggle to keep up with the changing pace of the industry, PR and marketing professionals must ensure that they stay ahead and remain in-the-know when it comes to media targets. Don’t just glance over their website, read their content and determine whether the information your pitching to journalists is suitable and relevant.
- Choose your content wisely — If we, as consumers, are changing the media landscape by clicking on short, snappy pieces of content, this ideally, should be considered in your PR campaign. Start thinking along the lines of Buzzfeed and generate interesting content but that can be consumed quickly and easily - video is a great way to do this. If your marketing team is pushing for a piece of long form content to be published in the Daily Mail, for example, it’s your responsibility to educate and advise on how else you might be able to use it. Ask your agencies about what will achieve results, you hired them for their expertise, they’ll be able to tell you what will work and what won’t.
Media channels are constantly diversifying and, as a result, are often diluting their impact. Now, I’m not saying that this is a wholly negative thing, social media, video and clickbait content has had a brilliant impact on the way we consume information, making it easier and more accessible but it’s essential that as PR and marketing professionals, we understand what this means and adapt accordingly.