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A quick disclaimer: there are no absolute statements, the minute we make one, someone will show us an example that goes against the statement.
Our world is non linear, with no silos, nothing is black and white. It’s messy.
And yet, here I am attempting to tell you about just media relations in a linear fashion.
This presentation covers a lot of ground: from loftier trends and observations to hands-on take aways you can apply to your job.
But this is a Twitter-friendly summation of my presentation. Instead of the slow, boring build, leading to this slide. This is what I’ll unpack and prove out during the time we have together.
So if you only pay attention to one slide, this is it.
Before we jump in, a bit about me. Currently I’m client side at Apex. As our full name suggests, we got our start applying our vending technology in industrial markets. Think high-tech vending, handing out safety equipment and supplies instead of snacks and drinks. And thanks to some cloud-based software, the device never runs empty.
We’re a global company and have started applying our solutions to consumer-facing applications.
Our technology is being used by some of the biggest brands in the world to eliminate customer lines. Across retail and food, you can order and pay digitally and then pick up your order without waiting in line, it takes seconds instead of minutes and it’s awesome sauce. Check it out.
My career includes work at several ad agencies…including these two. They both had different logos at the time.
In 2002, I started blogging and eventually created the Bad Pitch Blog – focusing on media relations.
So if I rant and rave today, it’s not an old man’s rant. It’s tough love. At times, I’m telling myself some of these things as much as I am you.
Here is an overview of the trends we’ll focus on today within how news is created, distributed and consumed.
It was almost overwhelming to look at all of the changes across media and consumers all at once and organize it here.
As I said in my disclaimer, it’s non-linear and much messier than than with plenty of overlap..
Spoiler alert, I’m excited to tell you there is a happy ending filled with opportunities for all of us.
Automation allows us to focus on more important things
If you feel that left-brained math and and right-brained creativity are somehow in competition, you might think math is winning.
But it’s not. It’s making our creativity as smart as it is imaginative. And it’s not replacing our jobs.
Right now, it’s allowing us to do more with less and to focus on more important tasks
A lot of the tech we use is a seamless part of our day. We’re using AI/Algorithms and automation all the time. We just don’t think about it.
And as journalism has been continually ravaged by cutbacks, evolution and even revolution, it’s required them to lean in on using math to create content.
Earthquakes can be reported on by the news more quickly than ever before. The media have taken the primary facts needed to report these stories and turned them into a plug and play math problem, or perhaps a logic problem, Regardless, the outcome is faster than humans could report this news.
The AP’s efforts sound grandiose, but it’s resulting in 10s of thousands of stories being covered that the AP might not be able to provide otherwise.
We live in a world of extremes where short attention spans and our Netflix binging habits have made micro content and long form content king. Middle form is dead.
Less is more and that’s OK.
To show you how far this has evolved, this is a gif showing that Shake Shack has Bombas socks merch. I’ll argue it’s the better part of a news release. Do we really need the fake/throwaway quote from an executive noting how they’re excited about this news?
My point is, Shake Shake has more than 150 gifs on the Giphy platform. It’s gotten them more than 325 million views.
Gifs are popular, throwaway content. But you shouldn’t throwaway this surprisingly hard-working format.
Let’s assume there’s a much bigger, interesting back story to the whole Shake Shack sock news. This gif can be used to help people find this story. Short-form content is perfect to drive engagement with long-form content. And it’s helping reindorce this polarity of content.
This leads us to decentralized, fragmenting news
News is decentralizing, as it’s following the consumer and their own consumption habits.
Suddenly our audiences are getting what they want, how they want it.
Marketers are happy just to find consumers during in between moments, reinforcing the need for short form content.
Is news following to meet consumers on their terms. Most are following through existing social platforms.
Even more fragmentation to follow decentralization
Cheddar is the perfect example of a news brand created to meet consumers on their new and constantly evolving terms.
Bloomberg has invested in following Cheddar’s lead.
And we’re seeing even more use of social platforms by major news organizations. Even though this is rented space.
The biggest takeaway here is that younger consumers are dipping into and out of news across these platforms. They’re not doing a big binge in the morning or early evening. Tic Toc and Cheddar are both responding to this shift.
Twitch is a free service that's populated by user-generated content. People play games live on Twitch while other folks watch. There is a comment section so that viewers can interact with the person streaming, along with the ability to tip the streamer with virtual items called "Bits" that can be purchased with real money.
Twitch is on this list because while they don’t have news now, they have a lot more worth considering.
They have a distribution network and an audience. And they’re engaging that audience at a level that’s comparable to big news networks..
Consider that Twitch accounts for 1.8% of peak internet traffic – behind only Netflix, Apple, and Google.
With 2.2 million daily broadcasters, and making millions in tips, they can sustain themselves.
They’re already considering what else they can be. Their app now suggests they’re “social video for gaming and the arts.”
And when we look at emerging platforms, I can’t mention Twitch without mentioningFortnite
The instantly, wildly popular game accounts for 14% of views, and 14% of viewing hours across Twitch.
Fortnite is kind of a big deal in that it allows people from around the world to play games simultaneously….regardless of the type of device they may be using…for free.
And thanks to in-game purchases, Fortnite is making more than one billion with a B.
This is DJ Marshmello and Ninja, the top Fortniet player.
Together they won a celebrity tournament . And why should you care?
Consider the audience they engaged by doing so.
No, we’re not talking Super Bowl-sized audiences.
And that’s OK. But when a 3-minute long video earns 13% of an annually shrinking Super Bowl audience.
Super Bowl 98.2 million viewers in 2019 103.4 million viewers in 2018 111.3 million viewers in 2017
it’s worth keeping an eye on this gaming phenomenon.
Predictions aside, this is where things get a tad messy. A venn diagram of consume and create for this discussion has a lot of overlap.
Nowhere is this more obvious than on social platforms
National outlets are talking about topics we can play in. Telling stories we can help them tell.
We need to learn how we fit into these new distribution channels
Apple News is also on your desktop if you own a mac.
My point being , this pervasiveness makes it easier to find those in-between moments.
This is a picture of the beardless Lincoln statue in downtown Cincinnati’s Lytle Park. It’s a bit of an easter egg in this presentation.
Created in 1917 it caused quite a stir. It was designed to present a genuine and authentic Lincoln compared to the less rugged versions we see on the $5 bill and in D.C The sculptor studied Lincoln’s life masks and casts of his hands for the piece.
More than a hundred years ago, this was not appreciated. It was deemed by critics to be “a lie in bronze.” Americans wanted to preserve Honest Abe’s memory in a more noble and, at the time, complimentary, fashion.
And I offer this story within a story up to you as one of the first examples of well-intended, fake news. Google this and you’ll learn more.
So what does this mean to you?
There are ways to scale efforts we aren’t considering, ways I haven’t covered here.
While I was preparing this presentation, I was reminded of this when my phone notified me it had created another short video using the pictures in my camera roll.
Without even asking, my phone took photos and put them to music….giving me something to react to that I can easily edit if I want and then share.
Consider how future news sources might unfold.
Anyone with a distribution network like Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, wind up building an audience.
To keep this audience and perhaps even advertise against them, they offer up original programming.
I suspect news will certainly follow. There’s certainly already enough documentaries online to begin to posit this theory.
Before we get into Q&A, I want to throw it back quickly. I graduated from UD in 1992. The photo on the left is me at work – as an intern at the City of Dayton’s marketing department. The photo on the left is me at play, from the safety of my front porch.
My point in showing you all this is simply to note that what we do may not change a ton over the course of a career – depending on how you look at it. But HOW we do it is always changing. And the reward for changing with it is relevance and effectiveness. So let’s keep embracing change.
Create: Tech is Automating News
• News media outlet resources shrink as technology allows
them to do more with less
• Basic, predictable news tends to be automated
• AP using “natural language generation platform” to create
“human-sounding narratives from data.”
• Quarterly earnings, weather reports, sports recaps
• Share site at Enquirer automates news submission
• New primary and secondary layers of news are evolving
Create: News is Abbreviated
• Short attention spans have killed middle-
• Visuals/video abbreviate and are
consumed more easily
• Shake Shake on Giphy, 327.5 million views
on platform with 164 .gif files
• Media outlets are adjusting to short- and
long-form desires across platforms
• Short-form: Snapchat
• Long-form: Podcasts, Netflix-like binging
• Features have longer shelf-life; short-
form content drives audience to features
Distribute: News is Decentralizing
• Social and mobile have changed
• Cord-Cutting/ OTT has consumers
shifting from cable to on-demand
• Audience can consume on their terms
• Aiming for in-between moments
• Post-cable news network provides
live, streaming news across on-
demand and social platforms
• Watched by 6.5 million+ every month
• Available across Twitter, YouTube,
Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Hulu
and more on-demand platforms
• Also on GSTV -- more than 18K gas
• 24/7, Live-Streaming news
competitor to Cheddar
• Started out Twitter-only, gets more
than 750,000 views daily
• Bloomberg owned outlet is targeting
(25-35 yr olds), models news
• NBC News, CNN and others relying on
Snapchat. For now.
• Free streaming video platform allowing
people to watch others play games and
interact with each other
• Nearly 1 million viewers daily, compares
to CNN, CNBC and Fox News viewership
• Viewers can tip players, spending more
than $12 million in less than 10 months
• Owned by Amazon
• Free gaming platform available
across multiple devices
• 78 million+ players monthly
• Making $1 billion+ from in-game
• Opened platform to other
developers to build on
• Launched creative mode for
players to create worlds
• Has spawned competitive game,
“It’s Not the Superbowl”
• 98.2 million SuperBowl 51 viewers
• Steadily declining viewership
• Ninja and Marshmello winning
Fortnite, a 3-minute-long video
• 12.75 million viewers - live viewers
and YouTube post-event
• 13% of Superbowl-sized audience
Consume: News is Ephemeral
• Are we spending more time on stories that
are around for less time?
• Long-form content demand requires more
resources for PR
• Short attention span across more platforms
consuming short-form content creates an
even more temporary nature of news stories
• Stories are designed to disappear after 24
hours on Snapchat and Facebook
• Your newsfeed refreshes as often as you
Consume: News is Ephemeral
• Repurposing stories is key
• #ICYMI and other simple
mechanisms allow you to
share content more than
once without penalty
• Let news/content
performance guide shelf life
• Media list targeting has
become even more critical
• Apply Abe Lincoln equation
• If you have six hours to
pitch a story, spend the first
four on your media list
To Do: Create/Consume
•Reverse-Engineer Your Story
• Star Wars was originally a story six-movies in length
• Started telling story out of sequence
• Main character assumedly Luke Skywalker
•Atomize Your Story
• Use short-form to attract audience to long-form
• Allows you more opportunities to promote story
• Generates more shelf-life from stories
To Do: Create/Consume
• Spend more time on quality vs. quantity stories
• Quality = Primary News
• Human generated
• Feature stories
• Qualitative media relations output
• Quantity = Secondary News
• New hires, basic event/product Info
• Quantitative media relations output
To Do: Create/Consume
• Look for more automation to
scale efforts - selectively
• News wires
• Enquirer’s Share site
• Spend amount of time warranted for
outcome you’ll generate
• Your phone may be creating content
for you right now
To Do: Distribute
• Revisit media lists
• Update platforms they’re on
• Engage media regarding their approach and how you may fit in
• Use social media to target pitches better
• Track future news sources
• Distribution networks build audience
• Original programming keeps audience
• Netflix, Amazon, Hulu
• Facebook Watch, Snapchat, IGTV, YouTube, Apple News
• News will follow
• Traditional outlets distribute via social
• Content starts community
• On-demand is next
How news is Created,
Consumed is changing.
To benefit from this shift,
our approach to media
relations must change.