It was in March when I decided to sign up for the daily email newsletter published by The Skimm. A young colleague had sung its praises, expressing a preference for the chatty, incisive reports on the day’s big news over the mainstream media’s morning coverage. The Daily Skimm digital newsletter launched by former NBC producers and millennial friends, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, is distributed every morning at 6:00 a.m.
The email’s unique format, which features topical snippets on political, world or national events, are written under clever headlines that seek to clarify the significance of the news to the reader, has a loyal following of 5 million, largely millennial readers who read it daily.
One month after reading The Daily Skimm, in order to glean insights on why the newsletter was becoming so widely read, this Generation X reader had a realization.
I hadn’t read mainstream media for my morning news for several weeks, but had been relying on The Daily Skimm. The brevity of the email’s reports – seemingly written for an audience used to getting their news updates from 140 characters or less – and the deft explanation of what makes the news significant to its readers were two attributes of the newsletter that I found appealing.
The casual tone in The Daily Skimm’s newsletter reports, coupled with its incisive take, on major news is what differentiates its coverage from the serious tenor inherent in mainstream news. The approach explains, at least in part, why the newsletter is popular among millennials who are known for shunning mass media.
The Millennial generation is the largest population in the U.S., surpassing even baby boomers as the largest generation group in the country, and will be the audience most coveted by U.S. businesses for decades to come. Understanding the type of editorial content and language that resonates with this demographic will remain important for public relations professionals for the foreseeable future.
If there were any doubts about The Skimm’s credibility as a source for news, they should have been put to rest in September 2016. That’s when the New York Times and others invested $500,000 in the company.
Fast forward to 2017. This is not to suggest that communication professionals should think about targeting The Skimm for a client’s news; but rather in today’s media environment it’s that the site’s popularity reflects how a decidedly non-mainstream news site has made strong inroads with a large segment of the population. So, too, have some other news aggregator sites attracted solid followings.
To be certain the rise of digital news aggregators, including those that accept contributed editorial content, is only going to continue. None of this is likely to diminish the importance of mainstream press. However, it does point to how a media environment in the midst of significant change is shifting the coverage possibilities for clients and the communications professionals who serve them. That’s not something that shouldn’t be ignored.
– Kelly Holman
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