'Traditional' media consumption continues to evolve

How people consume their news, and the sources they call "traditional" continue to change.

These days, it seems the ongoing energy around social media can often leave consideration of traditional media relations in the back seat. Yet, as exciting as the new social channels are, the impact of traditional media relations remains as important as ever before. Consumers still rely on professional news organizations. However, how people consume their news, and the sources they may call “traditional” continue to change.

Social media is an awesome tool to quickly facilitate the sharing of information. But we've all seen plenty of examples of the distribution of misinformation or “breaking news” that turned out to be false. Relying upon social media alone to satisfy our hunger for knowledge would regularly lead people to believe eagles snatch our children – among many other things.

These days, to reach an informed conclusion, consumers must balance the daily onslaught of raw information with professional news gathering and reporting. Thankfully, most news organizations have smartly evolved to embrace social media as a means to drive consumption of their professional content. Yet, the perception and understanding of “traditional media” is evolving, too, and as PR professionals, we should remain mindful of this change when advising clients and developing our media relations strategies.

Here are some new norms to remember:

1. Traditional news media, distributed online, is still traditional news media. The New York Times is the same source, albeit online or in print.

2. Consumers now consider established online-only news outlets as “traditional” sources. By establishing journalistic standards, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and TechCrunch, to name a few, are blogs that have transcended into traditional media space.

3. Major traditional news outlets are legitimizing rumor and gossip sites. Like it or not, the more often major news organizations source websites like TMZ.com and Gawker, the more “traditional” those sites appear in the eyes of consumers.

The demand for traditional news media isn't going away, but consumption habits and preferences are changing with new technology. Take, for example, the evolution of recorded music technology – from vinyl to CD to digital streaming. People haven't stopped enjoying music, they're just consuming it differently. Likewise, people won't stop enjoying traditional news media sources anytime soon, they're simply consuming it differently.

Dan Verakis is SVP and director of public relations at Cramer-Krasselt.

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