PR trends for 2018: 6 factors impacting the reach of media coverage

PR trends for 2018: 6 factors impacting the reach of media coverage

PR trends always start with media trends. Watch what the media is doing and you’ll uncover opportunities for coverage.

One of the biggest factors to watch is distribution -- where and how are publishers sharing their stories and where and how are those stories found? Will they be seen in search, social networks, inboxes -- or not seen at all, but heard? 

The answers to these questions can dramatically increase the reach of media coverage, and help you get in front of the audiences most important to your business.  

With that in mind, here are six factors shaping today’s media landscape.

1. Voice assistants speak up 

One estimate says 37 percent of the U.S. will own a voice assistant by the end of the year.

And Alexa, Google and Siri are becoming go-to sources for news, especially first thing in the morning.   

  • Thousands of media outlets have created skills for the Amazon Echo.

  • Google Home allows you to customize the news sources you hear after saying “Tell me the news.”

  • Siri will play you daily news podcasts from NPR, the BBC, and other sources.

  • Spotify is launching Spotlight, an audio newscast with content from Buzzfeed, Refinery 29, Cheddar and other outlets.

The takeaway: Podcasts and other audio forms of news make good targets as voice assistants arrive in homes, cars and elsewhere. This isn’t just an earned media strategy either -- many companies are developing their own skills for voice assistants as we speak (pun intended).   

2. Facebook’s news feed changes trigger new strategies

 2018 started off with a burst of announcements about the future of the Facebook news feed.

While these announcements are already upending the media industry in some ways, they’re really just the final nail in the coffin for organic Facebook reach.

Facebook traffic to publishers declined throughout 2017, dropping from 40 percent in January 2017 to 24 percent in January 2018.

Many publishers had already begun diversifying their traffic. The move will hurt some more than others, and will force new Facebook strategies for both publishers and brands, but at this point we have to see what effects the changes have before running in any one direction.

The takeaway: Don’t panic, but keep an eye on this story.

3. Push notifications get more engaging 

While you may no longer see a teaser to a story in a Facebook feed, publishers are already experimenting with push notifications to your phone, as Digiday reports.

  • The Wall Street Journal now allows its app users to get push notifications for nine topics, up from three.  

  • USA Today is using pictures, video, and GIFs to increase referral traffic from push notifications.

  • The Guardian is testing different fonts and styles.  

  • CNN will soon add rich media to its notifications.

That’s all in the name of grabbing your attention and moving you to click and read more. And as Digiday points out, the audience is captive: If you download the app and enable notifications and don’t turn them off, you’re likely interested in the content

The takeaway: Publishers are working to build audiences that won’t vanish with a tweak to the Facebook algorithm, and push notifications, like email, give them exactly that. Keep an eye on which media -- and which tactics -- succeed.

4. Twitter and LinkedIn drive traffic and engagement

With Facebook taking a step back from promoting news, Twitter and LinkedIn are stepping up to fill the vacuum.

  • Twitter is driving more engagement, according to data from SocialFlow. After doubling the character count of a tweet from 140 to 280, tweets longer than 140 were getting twice as many likes and retweets as those below the original character count.

  • As Facebook’s referral traffic continues to decline, Twitter is also driving more traffic to publishers, extending the reach of stories.

  • NewsWhip recently examined engagement for top publications among the C-suite. While the New York Times and Washington Post are two of the top publications read by the C-suite, articles on Harvard Business Review got more engagement than either, and The Economist had more engagement than the Post.

  • The picture changes even more on LinkedIn, where Forbes got the lion’s share of engagements, with more than 20 million. Second place was CNBC with a little more than 8 million engagements.

The takeaway: Know what publishers and platforms will get you the most visibility based on your topic and audience.

5. Email newsletters continue their growth

Email newsletters are still gaining momentum for publishers.

  • The New York Times has more than 13 million subscribers to 50 email newsletters and counting.

  • The Washington Post is adding two newsletters -- one on cyber security and defense, the other on technology -- to its growing stable.

  • Axios celebrated the one-year anniversary of its “smart brevity” email newsletters in January by expanding its coverage, opening a contributor network, and taking steps into video.  

  • MIT Technology Review launched a new AI-focused newsletter.

  • Quartz, long a champion of email, is publishing short-run newsletters around big events, like CES and Davos, and has seen big success with its Quartz Obsession newsletter.

The takeaway: It’s 2018, but email is still a great way to get a story out, and targeting a publication with a strong newsletter can extend the reach of your story to an engaged audience.

6. Video remains as engaging as ever

While some publishers are second-guessing the much-heralded “pivot to video” that swept through media in 2017, it’s still a powerhouse.

  • We saw at CES how influential outlets like CNET and Digital Trends once again set up pop-up studios to cover technology in depth.

  • Twitter-based live news shows, from Cheddar, the pioneer, to Buzzfeed’s AM to DM and Bloomberg’s TicToc, are reaching millions of viewers daily.

They join many outlets focused on creating engaging visual content through broadcast, live streaming, and social videos.

The takeaway: As publishers look for visual stories to tell, think through how you can present your product or service in the best light and which members of your team would succeed on camera.

These factors can help shape your strategy and extend the reach of your results, whether you’re looking to improve your existing media relations program or you’re just starting to explore how earned media coverage can drive your thought leadership and raise your company’s profile.

Mike Lizun is Senior Vice President of Public Relations at Gregory FCA, focusing on earning media for clients using digital storytelling tools, content, technology, and key media relationships. By providing story ideas, news, trends, data, and information to the media, he helps companies break away from their competitors with high-impact media coverage. He blogs at The NewsHackers.

Photo via Pexels

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