For PR pros, it’s important to thoughtfully assess how people are consuming news in a media landscape that is constantly evolving. The introduction of the internet, social media and hand-held technology have all enabled the public to obtain news at a moment’s notice. Yet there is a concern that people—especially the Millennial generation— are not engaged with news and are not visiting traditional news sources for this information.
The American Press Institute’s Media Insight Project recently released a study that investigated this perception and whether it was valid. The study, which focused on Millennials in particular and if they really are “newsless, passive or civically uninterested”, compared to earlier generations as a result of their focus on social networks via mobile devices opposed to new sites, newspapers and TV news. The study found that 85% of Millenials say keeping up with the news is at least “somewhat important” to them and 69% consume news daily. Social media plays a large role, with 88% of Millennials receiving their news via Facebook and nearly half (47%) listing “news” as their main reason for visiting the social media platform.
The study also found that this form of news discovery has actually widened Millennials’ awareness and exposed them to more perspectives, with 70% saying their social media feeds contain diverse opinions, motivating 73% of that number to investigate those opinions. It was also found that Milennials are more inclined to look at news they may otherwise not have explored due to their peers recommending and contextualizing it, therefore exposing them to topics they may not have otherwise seen.
So what does this mean for business communicators?
The good news is that news consumption is as vital as ever. Though Millennials may not be the target audience for every business, this study provides valuable insight into the behaviors of people up to their mid-thirties who are beginning to influence buying decisions. Businesses and PR professionals should proactively explore different avenues in which to reach their audience and research some of the less traditional platforms available, rather than rely on only the tried and true.
In an age where the audience is more accessible, companies should take full advantage of these types of tools. Not only does a communications program that embraces these tools demonstrate a company’s ability to adapt to the latest technology, but it will also enable a company to generate interest with people they may not have reached through traditional means.
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