Chris Lynch, Chief Marketing Officer, Cision
In 2016, the media found itself in an unusual position: The media wasn’t simply reporting the news; it was the news. While research indicates that people still trust earned media more than paid or owned media, a series of key events — particularly the US presidential election — eroded public trust in the media. From the use of Twitter by political candidates to reports of fake news to the rise of platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Live, media wasn’t just something people consumed in 2016 – it was part of their daily dialogue and experience.
The findings of Cision’s State of the Media Report 2017 are clear: journalists, publishers and brand communicators must continue to provide relevant, authoritative, accurate content to the public in order to preserve and rebuild consumer trust. The way the public consumes and relates to the media is evolving, as are the ways industry professionals are pivoting and adapting to this shift.
Below are eight predictions, based on our State of Media survey respondent feedback, for what you can expect to see trending for media in the year ahead:
Trust and credibility are on everyone’s mind.
Ninety-one percent of journalists believe that the media is somewhat or much less trusted than they were three years ago – and they’re not wrong. A recent report found that public trust in the media has dropped to a level matching distrust in government officials. More than ever, journalists and influencers value accuracy over speed. Ninety-two percent of respondents said that being right is more important than being first, up four percent from 2016.
Facts and accuracy come first.
Journalists want news outlets and publications to focus more on fact-based reporting rather than opinion-based coverage. Although influencers were more divided on the matter, 60 percent of reporters say the public values facts over opinions or feelings. Within the industry, being right is viewed as more important than being first.
Journalists continue to prefer email as the primary means of contact, with more than 90 percent of respondents indicating it is their preferred way to receive a direct story pitch. Telephone pitching has fallen out of favor, with an eight percent uptick in respondents who say that pitching by phone is strictly off limits.
Personal pitches pack a punch.
Journalists continue to rely on public relations professionals for story sources. While the majority say their reliance on PR professionals has not changed, twelve percent say they rely on PR professionals more today than they used to. Newsworthiness and relevance to a journalist’s audience are critical to piquing a reporter’s interest, with the topics that communicators pitch to a journalist or influencer proving to be more important than how the story is pitched. More than half of respondents said that displaying knowledge of past work, interests and beats is what drove them to pursue a story. It has never been more important to know about the person you’re pitching to.
Influencer marketing continues to mature and is constantly evolving.
The ethics of influencer marketing were big news in 2016, with the Federal Trade Commission cracking down on disclosure rules and fining brands that failed to have influencers declare sponsorships. As the ethics for influencer marketing continue to evolve and mature, public relations professionals have a valuable opportunity to play a role in shaping the industry.
Media will continue to be a multi-channel world.
With real-time media channels and live video outlets growing in popularity, modern media professionals are wearing a new hat: diversified digital content generators. Facebook has become the leading audience engagement tool, while journalists identify Twitter as having the greatest opportunity for growth. With eroding trust in traditional media, the rise of independent media influencers such as bloggers, podcasters and social media personalities, as well as influencers, will become even more important within the communications ecosystem in the year ahead.
Social reliability is a concern.
Journalists continue to use social to share and broadcast their stories, but that doesn’t mean they automatically trust these sources for content. Faith in the credibility of social media has dropped, with seven percent fewer respondents agreeing that it is a reliable resource for information when compared to last year.
Interactive content is key.
To increase engagement and interaction with readers and viewers, media professionals are trying to make their content more interactive. Results show journalists are now more likely to use images, videos, infographics and user-generated multimedia than data assets. Photos and social media posts rank first and second as the most popular forms of media used.
If 2016 was the disruptor year for media, 2017 is the year of opportunity. For PR professionals, success will not only depend on working within the context of new trends and tactics, but also understanding where things stand today to get ahead of where they are going tomorrow.