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

The 7 Stages of Grief: How to Get Over the Article that Got Away

Your Article Didn't Make The Cut
Your Article Didn't Make The Cut

It happened: the perfect story for your client ran in one of your target publications, but your client wasn't in it. That’s right – you've been left out. Despite all the networking you do, the relationships you maintain with industry reporters and your constant media outreach, you somehow managed to slip this reporter’s mind when she was drafting her piece.

First of all, don’t beat yourself up. This can and does happen to the best of us: even the most successful PR pro doesn't bat 1,000. No matter how good you are, at some point in your career you’ll lose an article that should have been yours - and when it happens to you, you’ll go through the classic 7 stages of grief. Here’s how to deal with each of them:

1. Shock

Finish reading the article and take a few deep breaths. Maybe walk a couple laps around the office to process the terrible injustice unfortunate fact that this reporter didn’t think to include your client. Give yourself a few moments to get over the shock before moving on.

2. Denial

Maybe your client WAS mentioned and you just missed it on the first read. It’s possible, but try to suppress the desire check the article over and over. Here are several places that it’s almost certainly NOT hiding:

  •         On the fold of the newspaper
  •         Copied onto some rogue Silly Putty
  •         On a section of the website that didn’t load properly
  •         On a “deep web” section of the website
  •         On an insert that fell from the magazine
  •         On a fragrance sample that fell from the magazine

No use denying it: it’s not there.

3. Anger

You’re right – it IS completely outrageous to write an article on that industry without including your client’s perspective. How could anyone think that’s a good idea? How could the reporter do this to YOU?

Although it may feel like it, remember that this omission wasn’t personal – reporters, like everyone else, are subject to a broad range of professional pressures that affect what they produce. It’s totally possible that the omission of your client was out of the reporter’s control.

4. Bargaining

Resist the urge to promise the PR gods that you’ll never send a pitch using mail merge EVER AGAIN if they’ll just make the reporter revise the online version – though cathartic, it’s unlikely to have a meaningful impact on your success. Instead, focus on concrete things you can do to make your relationship with the reporter stronger and ensure you’re included their next article.

5. Depression

It’s OK to indulge in the other steps for a bit, but just don’t go there with this one. In PR, like in life in general, there’s always something that can knock you off your horse if you let it – don’t let this do that to you.

You need to look at this omission as an opportunity for growth. That means pulling yourself together, meeting with your team and starting to brainstorm some solutions.

6. Testing

Now it’s time for things to start looking up. Talk with your team about realistic actions you can take to respond. Start with reaching out to the reporter - if you already have a strong relationship, she should be willing to explain what happened and why you got left out.

If you don’t know the reporter so well or haven’t talked to her in a while, this is the perfect chance to get your client on her radar. Think of an inflection point where your client could have fit into her story. Then, give the reporter a quick call (or email, or tweet) to share how much you enjoyed her article and explain what your client could add to any future discussion of the topic.

7. Acceptance

Remember, this happens to the best of us. Accept that you were omitted and think about what you can learn from it. What defines successful people in this business isn't getting omitted or not, but how they respond to it.

By clearing away negative emotions, tweaking strategy and communicating effectively, effective PR pros turn omissions into opportunities. Work through your loss and make sure that your reaction includes a clear strategy for ensuring it doesn't happen again. Finally, communicate that strategy to your client so they know it’s under control!

Have you grieved the loss of the article that got away? Any tips for dealing with it constructively? Let us know in the comments!

Contributed by Greenough Media Team members Andrea LePain (@alepain), Karen Laverty (@LavertyKaren), Christine Williamson (@ChristineDBW), Rachel Vaccari (@Rachel_Vaccari), Lucy Muscarella (@LucyMuscarella) and Caitlin Cimino (@caitlin_cimino).

Feeding the Media: Turning One Strategic Placement into Multiple Big Hits

These days producers, editors and reporters are under constant deadlines. The pressure is on to fill digital and cable news sites with fresh content 24/7 and reporters are often asked to file three or more stories a day. So how do journalists continually feed the beast? By sharing content.

The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University study finds that nearly 76 percent of stations are involved with other media in newsgathering and sharing agreements. Almost a third of news directors (31.2 percent) said they ran news on another local station, and the study finds that content ran on an average of 1.4 stations. The majority of stations also have cooperative agreements with outlets in other mediums including local newspapers, radio stations and websites.

Whether it’s a pitch for an article, video, slideshow or story idea, good media relations professionals know how to take advantage of these sharing agreements and identify key “feeder” media. Take Bankrate.com for example, a feeder site for Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance and MSN. The online outlet already has an impressive 63,695,333 page views per month, but combine that with the views top tier outlets like Fox are bringing in and you’ve just increased the exposure exponentially with one strategic pitch.

Here at Greenough, we’ve been able to implement this approach for several clients. This spring, we secured an article on seasonal allergies in the print and online editions of Health Magazine for Thermo Fisher Scientific. A good hit in its own right, but then the story got picked up by ABCNews.com and FoxNews.com.

For GT Advanced Technologies, we secured an article in MIT Review that went viral – netting more than 60 article pick-ups including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNN and Business Insider. We also saw 30 local news articles and 18 trade hits.

As with any good story pitch, it’s all about the research. Study your target outlets, identify their key “feeder” sites and understand who has a content sharing agreement with whom. The time and effort spent upfront will certainly help you maximize exposure and secure your next top tier hit.

Contributed by Account Supervisor Christine Williamson. Follow her on Twitter: @ChristineDBW.

The Importance of PR Pitching Via Phone

We posted a blog post a while ago on the importance of picking up the phone in PR, especially when pitching stories. We, as an industry, have begun to rely too much on email as a sole form of communication. However, the reality is, phone pitches can produce some very powerful results. Here are a few thoughts about phone pitching that our director of media relations Aaron Kellogg brought up in an earlier blog post, which serve as a good reminder of the power of phone conversations:

Email gets stuck. A journalist friend of mine once said to me, “My email just piles up! I probably get 20 pitches a day. I don’t know what to do with it all, so I don’t do anything.” His advice? “It’s annoying to get a phone call. But, once the person starts talking, I usually have to listen.” Sure, there’s something irritating for journalists who get phone calls: it’s an interruption. But, those who call immediately have the journalist’s ear. Then, it’s up to the PR representative to make the pitch work.

The open discussion. Sometimes it’s good to lend your ear to the journalist. What does that mean? A couple months back we were pitching a high-level legal publication. But, we weren’t sure if the editor would be interested in the topic we were pitching. After all, we also weren’t sure what angle we wanted to take. So we had a discussion. And upon getting the editor on the phone, our conversation went something like this:

    “This is Susan”      “Hi Susan, I’m calling on behalf of (my client). We realize there’s a lot of news about (a program the IRS is undertaking). Is it something you’ve given a lot of coverage to?”

Two things were interesting about this pitch:

One, this discussion would likely not have taken place over email. By having a telephone conversation, we were able to open up the conversation to get a better idea of what the editor wanted – we lent her our ear to do a bit of listening. Why is it good? Because sometimes I feel like email pitches can be like throwing darts at a dart board. You have a specific, physical idea in your possession. And once you fire off the pitch by clicking “send,” it’s fingers crossed. Instead, the phone conversation is malleable.

Two, there wasn’t really a pitch in this example. Some people might deem this “lazy PR.” After all, our job is to develop firm, targeted pitches. But, I’d argue that tightly-positioned pitches can sometimes be overwhelming for a journalist. In fact, during my days as a news reporter, I didn’t always want a complete story idea. And, as was the case here, by not presenting definitive story idea, the editor had a few moments to consider the topic and absorb it. By walking through our ideas together in conversation, her interest grew with every word, and we ended the discussion with a definitive idea of where both she and I wanted to end up. Sometimes, soft pitches amount to greatness.

You’re kidding me right? These are the words a New York Times marketing and advertising reporter used when I told her I was calling on behalf of a software company. After all, top-tier reporters want colorful characters, interesting anecdotes and stories with a twist. Such details are seldom found in software development stories. And, had I emailed, the reporter would likely have never responded.

But, my voice on the other end of the line forced the reporter to listen to my pitch (as much as she probably didn’t want to). And, surprisingly, she asked a few questions. In fact, her questions amounted to a five minute conversation. And surprisingly the reporter responded to our follow-up email, leaving the door open for future interaction.

Is the telephone conversation the end-all to public relations? Absolutely not. I would be remiss in saying that Twitter, Facebook, Help a Reporter Out and other electronic channels are powerful tools.

But, for those who dread reporter phone conversations: confront your fear. And, for those whose love affair with the phone needs rehabilitation: rekindle your love.

Because sometimes communication by voice can be most effective – and – in the examples above, it produced remarkable results.

Contributed by Aaron Kellogg. Follow him @KelloggAaron

The Art [and Science] of Mobile, Security and Healthcare Storytelling

Storytelling is the most common and memorable form of communication. In its simplest form, storytelling allows us to share experiences and create emotional connections. Today, many businesses claim that they’re storytellers, but few truly understand the art (and science) of storytelling. We’re fascinated with the science of storytelling, so much so that we’ve studied it for years. In our “2012 Prevailing Storylines Study,” we ranked the ten prevailing narratives that appear regularly in mainstream business media. But that wasn’t enough, so in our most recent study of industry-specific media, we trained our eyes on journalists covering mobile technology, IT security and healthcare/ healthcare IT, to look for patterns and potential differences.

The 2013 Prevailing Storylines Study looked at nearly 1,500 articles across 30 business and trade publications spread across three core markets: mobile technology, IT security and healthcare IT/healthcare. The study not only confirmed the prevalence of the ten recurring storylines/narratives, but also showed that certain narratives do indeed appear with regularity in each industry. Within media coverage of mobile technology, for example, “Things Not What They Seem” appeared most frequently. In coverage of IT security, on the other hand, “Recipe for Success” appeared more often, while in healthcare/healthcare IT the most common storyline was “New Kid on the Block.”

What this research showed us is that the science of storytelling is even more nuanced than we thought. In other words, there are enough noticeable differences at the industry level to recommend unique approaches to storytelling in these markets. And, if companies understand what narratives resonate most within their industry and within the media, they can better position themselves for continued growth and success.

Phil Greenough, CEO of Greenough