Rise of the Mobile News Junkie: 4 Insights From the State of the News Media Annual Report

paper and glasses
paper and glasses

Shifts in consumers’ news behavior have a tremendous impact on how we, as PR professionals, get our clients’ messages across. In the Pew Research Center’s annual State of the News Media report, thirty-nine of the top fifty news websites now see more traffic coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers - representing one of the biggest changes in America’s news habits. As readership on digital-only and social mediums grows, media relations strategies must adapt. Any good agency will understand and appreciate the value of an old-school hit like a Wall Street Journal article and an interview on an iHeartRadio station, but the strategy shouldn’t stop there. With so many new faces in the game, it’s more important than ever to do your research. PR firms and the companies they represent should weigh the social reach and social influence of the reporter and the outlet before jumping on or declining a potential media opportunity. As the number of people who view news on their mobile devices continues to increase, getting tweeted about could make all the difference in reaching your next customer.

Below are 4 additional key findings from this year’s State of the News Media report.

  1. Audio journalism, across the board, sees new life

It was a break-out year for podcasts – fueled by smartphone growth and drivers listening in their cars, NPR’s podcasts and downloads alone grew 41%. Internet radio listening is also up. More than half of Americans 12 and older have listened to an online radio station in the past month and most of the listening is being done via mobile device.

So what does this mean for AM/FM radio, which traditionally had a stronghold on people stuck in traffic? Not much actually. While one might think that the rise of podcasts would decrease the public’s affinity for broadcast radio, it hasn’t. Broadcast radio still reaches the overwhelming majority of the American public. In fact, 91% of people report listening to the radio in the week before they were surveyed.

  1. Both network and local TV capture more viewers

Legacy brands haven’t been abandoned – it’s just the way in which consumers are connecting to network and local news has changed. Local TV News continues to gain audience share in the evening (3%), but the biggest audience growth posted in the very early morning, as the 4:30 a.m. newscasts got a 6% boost from the year before. Network news viewership rose for the second year in a row, but the biggest benefit to placing a story with one of the big three (ABC, CBC or NBC) may be their online presence. According to the analytics firm comScore, the three commercial broadcast networks rank among the top domestic news and information destinations, but ABC’s partnership with Yahoo gives them a slight edge. All three now receive more visits from a mobile device than a desktop computer.

  1. People still read newspapers in print

We’ve seen a significant shift to all digital formats for many trade magazines, but so far top tier newspapers are resisting, and with good reason. 56% of those who consume a newspaper read it exclusively in print, while 11% also read it on a laptop; 5% also read it on mobile and another 11% read it on all three mediums. In total, more than eight in every ten newspaper readers read the print version at least part of the time. As with network news sites, mobile traffic is on the rise. Most online newspaper visitors are arriving through Twitter or Facebook links and they don’t stay long on the main news site – making the outlet’s or the reporter’s social promotion of a story featuring your company a lot more important.

  1. Digital-only outlets become influential players

Known-mostly for its humorous lists, Buzzfeed is extremely popular with millennials - so popular that NBCUniversal Inc. recently announced that it’s investing $200 million in the digital site. But Buzzfeed is more than just funny clickbait. It’s the second most visited digital-only news site behind the Huffington Post, and it’s making big journalistic hires – poaching reporters and editors from the New York Times, The Guardian and the San Francisco Chronicle. Other digital news outlets like Vice, Quartz, Politico and Vox are increasingly influential as well – all boasting millions of unique visitors per month.

So what do you think? Do these findings reflect how you’re getting your news? Do you spend more time reading the headlines on Twitter than flipping through the pages of the Times? And how have these changing habits impacted your company’s media strategy? For us here at Greenough, we’re constantly monitoring all these channels and looking for ways to disrupt the conversation.

Christine Williamson is Manager, Media Relations at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @ChristineDBW