Shorthand2 Broadband 2007 Journalism In A Digital Age

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Shorthand2 Broadband 2007 Journalism In A Digital Age

  1. 1. From Shorthand to Broadband Journalism in the digital age – and what it means for PR
  2. 2. Introduction: a shifting media landscape The Daily Telegraph showed great foresight when in 1994 it became the first UK national newspaper to publish online. It took another four years before BBC online was launched in 1998 and The Guardian followed suit the following year. But much of the ‘traditional’ media remained relatively resistant to change for many years - as recently as 2001, the Daily Mail’s chief executive, Charles Sinclair, declared: “We have no belief that newspapers will transfer themselves onto the Internet”. It’s really only in the last three years that we have seen the wider media truly embracing the potential of the Internet. A key turning point came in 2005, when a repentant Rupert Murdoch spelt out the need for a change in mindset within the traditional centres of media power: “Certainly, I didn’t do as much as I should have after all the excitement of the late 1990s…quietly hoping that this thing called the digital revolution would just limp away. Well it hasn’t, it won’t, and it’s a fast-developing reality we should grasp as a huge opportunity to improve our journalism and expand our reach.” Today, 32 million in the UK have access to the Internet and broadband is now an everyday utility with 52% of all adults in Great Britain connected at home, (NOP FRI Survey December 2006). This has undoubtedly acted as the catalyst for a change of gear: as more and more people make the Internet the centre of their media consumption, so the ‘traditional’ media has started taking the medium more seriously. This is fundamentally changing the way news is gathered and reported. This report is based on a survey of the opinions of UK journalists from across the media spectrum and explores the extent to which their jobs have changed since the dawning of the digital age. It should make interesting reading for any media professional, but will be particularly thought provoking for Public Relations practitioners who work so closely with journalists every day. 1
  3. 3. About the survey The survey demonstrated this is changing fast. Clearly there are now many online-only publishers creating new The survey for this report was conducted throughout content every minute of the day that is specifically for September and October 2007 using an online the web. But even amongst the ‘traditional’ media, 44% questionnaire. A total of 47 journalists completed of respondents said that at least a fifth of their online the questionnaire anonymously. These journalists content is original new content. were drawn from across the media spectrum – from national news reporters to radio and trade specialists. Approximately how much of your online content is new (i.e., not repetition of existing offline content)? Which of the following best describes the media organisations you work for? Response % None 8.9 Response % 0–20% 24.4 National newspaper 28.3 21–40% 22.2 Regional newspaper 8.7 41–60% 11.1 Lifestyle magazine 10.9 61–80% 2.2 Broadcast-TV 2.2 81–100% 8.9 Broadcast-radio 2.2 100% (we only publish online) 17.8 B2B trade magazine 4.4 Don’t know 4.4 Technology trade 19.6 Freelance 6.5 Web publisher 15.2 Online now means multi-media Other (please list) 2.2 The survey showed that not only are virtually all media online, but that multi-media content is being embraced Who’s online? online as well. The days of static text/image websites The survey found that virtually all of the journalists are gone. Blogs, audio podcasts and video elements surveyed worked for media that had some kind of are common across the websites of today’s media. online presence (only 2.2% didn’t). Video in particular has made a huge impact – despite only 2% of the survey respondents being traditional Does your media title have a presence online? broadcasters, 66% said that they included online TV or Response % video on their websites. Yes 97.8 No 2.2 Which of the following formats do you offer online? Response % Which format draws the biggest audience? Online TV / video clips 65.9 The perception of the journalists from the ‘traditional’ Blogs (journalist authored) 72.7 Blogs (public authored) 20.5 media (in other words, not online-only) was that their Audio podcasts 63.6 traditional print or broadcast formats still accounted Video podcasts 43.2 for their largest audience: 72% of those that knew said Community/discussion boards 65.9 None of the above 17.8 this was the case. However, online is certainly rapidly Don’t know 11.4 growing in influence: 27% said that their online format was drawing the largest audience. This is borne out when the latest ABC circulation figures are reviewed Rise of UGC which show that the Sun has three times as many User Generated Content (UGC) has become an readers of its website than its newspaper. Similarly, the integral part of the media mix today and the survey Guardian has 15 million online readers, compared to showed that 91% of the respondents accepted some 370,000 newspaper readers. kind of UGC. This ranged from the (almost ubiquitous) On which format do you have the largest audience? Which of the following applies to your media organisation’s Response % approach to user generated content (UGC)? Our original ‘traditional 53.3 Response % print/broadcast format Our online format 20.0 We accept comment on 88.9 stories online Don’t know 11.1 We accept and publish user 46.7 We only publish online 15.6 pictures We accept and publish user 17.8 films and content Online content: original or reproduction? We regularly quote bloggers 28.9 We include third-party 8.9 For many years, websites for much of the media were bloggers on our site seen purely as a place to reproduce existing content – an We don’t accept UGC (other 8.9 than traditional letters to online archive that took its lead from the offline world. editors, phone-ins, etc. 2
  4. 4. option for people to comment on stories online, to survey respondents seem to have very little training to quoting bloggers in stories and publishing of user help them adjust to their evolving roles. 33% may be films and pictures. Although only a minority (9%) doing piece to camera but only 9% have had Video were doing so, it was also interesting to note that Journalism training. some media had incorporated content from third party bloggers alongside that from staff journalists. What kinds of training have you had to help you create new forms of media content? The changing role of journalists Response % Presenting to camera/VJ training 8.7 When asked how the digital age had affected their Audio/podcast training 8.7 roles, journalists said they were expected to produce Writing for the web 13.0 more content and (probably as a result) worked Blog training 4.4 None 65.2 longer hours. They are expected to work across media platforms – a third were expected to do piece to camera. Many (30%) said they had less time How PRs need to react to research stories in person and the blogosphere The respondents were asked what kinds of content emerged as a key new source of stories for a large from PR professionals would help them. Emailed press proportion (44%). releases are still by far the most popular content PRs • “I’m required to think about multimedia potential can provide, but it was interesting to note the emerging on every story - is there material that could be used demand for digital content. 29% of respondents said online? I am also trained to produce video clips.” microsites to support stories were helpful, more than one in five now find video content useful and audio • “I have less time to go out and get scoops” is also becoming more important. Social Media News • “It’s now much easier to research or find online Releases (SMNRs) that combine elements of all the sources of stories, for example Facebook” above in a way that makes them easy to reproduce online are a very new phenomenon, but one in five • “It has allowed us to produce longer articles in journalists already recognise their potential. full online, rather than only being able to print edited versions.” Assuming the content is high quality and well targeted, which of the following do you find useful to receive from public relations officers? • “I think in a more 3D way, my role has expanded Response % from pure print to print and online editing which means thinking for every story “what’s the added Hard copy press releases 4.4 Emailed press releases 97.8 value I can give online.” Social media news releases 22.2 Visual images such as 60.0 photographs In what way has the internet, and the delivery of media content Video content – e.g., links to 22.2 over the web, changed your role? short films Response % Audio content – e.g., links to 17.8 recorded interviews, etc I now focus more on analysis rather 16.3 Link to a microsite with more 28.9 than news information about a story I’m sometimes expected to do piece 32.6 to camera I’m expected to produce more content 62.8 Online to dominate in ten years I have a blog not connected to my 9.3 media organisation Finally, respondents were asked if they thought online I have to do podcasts as well 39.5 would become the most important channel for their I use things like blogs to source 44.2 stories, etc media organisation. The overwhelming majority (93%) I have less time to research stories in 27.9 felt that it would and 28% said it already had. person Exclusives have become more 37.2 important How long before you think online/digital becomes the most important channel for your media organisation? I compete with my readser (via UGC) 2.3 for space Response % I work longer hours 37.2 I think it already has 28.3 It’s had no impact 4.7 Within six months 0.0 Within 12 months 10.9 Within five years 34.8 Low levels of training Within ten years 13.0 Interestingly, despite a clear shift towards what can be I don’t think it ever will 13.0 termed multi-channel or multi-media journalism, the 3
  5. 5. What does all this mean for the Embrace multi-channel PR PR industry? Second, we must recognise that the way journalists work has changed forever and reflect that in how Comment on the we work with them. Just as the survey showed most survey findings journalists now think and act in a ‘multi-channel’ way, from Gareth so must we. It’s no longer just broadcasters that want Thomas, Head powerful video content, newspapers do too. We need of Interact, to question the value of old adages such as the one Brands2Life that says it makes no sense to send picture stories to radio newsdesks – in fact most radio stations now welcome such content to help bring their websites alive. There’s a huge opportunity here for us to package stories with all kinds of multi-media elements – something that can help time-poor journalists and increase the exposure of the brands we represent. This survey shows just how far the media has evolved Join the online conversation in recent years - virtually everyone is now represented Third, it is clear that the Internet – and in particular online and the Internet is no longer treated as the poor the blogosphere is an important source of stories for cousin to ‘traditional’ print or broadcast, but often as journalists. Therefore we have to contribute content the primary channel to reach audiences. and ideas direct to the Internet. This can be achieved The knock-on effect for journalists is that they’re by writing our own blogs – assuming we have increasingly expected to operate as ‘multi-channel’ something interesting to talk about – or by nurturing reporters - filing print stories, keeping blogs updated relationships with the prominent bloggers that are on (often personal and ‘official’), writing online articles the feedreader lists of journalists. and even recording video reports or audio podcasts. Certainly there are those in the industry who recognise Will Lewis, the visionary editor of The Daily Telegraph, the need for these kinds of changes and who are highlighted this trend earlier in the year commenting already making great strides. But, from speaking to that: “success in the new media world will require a journalists and PR people, it seems to me that the new breed of journalist – one that no longer works majority have some way to go before the way we in one medium but with words, pictures, and moving work reflects the way the media has changed. pictures.” The perhaps inevitable consequence is that journalists are working longer hours and have less time Gareth Thomas is an associate director at award- to get out and about to source stories. winning public relations consultancy, Brands2Life. Over the last ten years he has devised and run more For me, there are at least three key ways in which the than 40 public relations campaigns to raise awareness PR industry needs to respond to these changes: of both large and small brands. A keen blogger and social media evangelist, he heads Brands2Life’s Interact Value online division which helps companies take advantage of First, we need to learn to value online media coverage emerging social media channels to ensure their brands much more highly as a way to reach our audiences. stand out from the crowd online. Gareth began his Too many still regard ‘traditional’ print or broadcast career as a press officer with the Department for media coverage as the most important output from a Education and Employment and holds a Bachelor of campaign. It is still very important, but surely getting Science degree from the University of Wales. covered by the Sun Online, with an audience three times larger than the print newspaper edition, should also be considered significant. Often online is regarded as a ‘nice to have’. Part of the problem here is that most Board-level decision makers are ‘digital immigrants’ – people who have not grown up with the Internet and who are less likely to intuitively understand its growing importance. As PR professionals we need to promote understanding of the importance of online within our organisations. 4
  6. 6. About Brands2Life Giles Fraser and Sarah Scales founded Brands2Life in April 2000 and have grown it to a 55-person strong business. Brands2Life is a strategic, high impact PR agency focused on helping brands stand out from the crowd. Clients include: 3i, Cisco, CNET Networks, Flight Centre, Intel Corporation, Logitech, Rentokil Pest Control, Sharp, Stepstone, Sungard Availability Services, Tesco, T-Mobile and Webex. About Brands2Life Interact The media landscape is evolving at breakneck speed. Over the last few years we’ve seen the meteoric rise of blogs, the spread of internet radio and television, the growth of citizen journalists and user-generated content and the viral power of social media. At the heart of all this change is a fundamental shift in how people ‘consume’ media - we are receptive to a greater variety of voices, demand interactivity and two-way conversations, and our lives require more flexibility in how and when we receive content. What does all this mean for your brand and its messages? How can you produce consumer or business campaigns that are impactful in this changing media landscape? Do you target a blogger as you would a journalist, or do different rules apply? Does it make sense for a b2b brand to place films on YouTube? What makes a viral message spread like wildfire rather than fizzle out as a damp squib? Interact is Brands2Life’s consultancy arm that helps you answer these questions and get interactive in a way that makes sense for your brand. We can help you decide which of the new channels work for you, including blogs, podcasts, viral video/games, and much more. And because we understand ‘traditional’ media we can ensure that these elements either spice up or integrate with your existing campaigns. If you’d like to find out more contact us on Brands2Life 1 Warwick Row London SW1E 5ER T +44 (0) 20 7592 1200 F +44 (0) 20 7592 1201 E info@brands2life.com www.brands2life.com 5

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