I've read the reports about how dwindling resources in the newsroom are turning people away from newspapers and other traditional media outlets, and how local TV is becoming increasingly vulnerable due to a steady loss of its once-loyal viewers. Yet I applaud clients for not losing sight of what continues to be a highly effective way to tell their story and ultimately build their brand.
While the value of new media is undeniable, the benefits of traditional media should not be overlooked.
Americans' overall media consumption is on the rise, with traditional media leading the way. From 2008 to 2013, Americans' media consumption grew at a 5% clip annually, and by 2015 consumption of both traditional and digital media is estimated to reach a whopping 1.7 trillion hours. That's more than 15 hours per person per day, according to a 2013 report produced by the Institute for Communications Technology at the USC Marshall School of Business. What's more, 60% of media hours are spent watching TV and listening to the radio.
Traditional media have a widespread, yet targeted reach. Although much stock has been put into self-published information, curating content is only half of the equation. The content also must have an audience. Traditional news outlets have spent years cultivating readers, listeners, and viewers, and they are masters at reaching target audience segments – from Baby Boomers who tune into oldies radio to sports enthusiasts and savvy business executives who monitor commentary on newspaper op-ed pages.
Traditional media remain a trusted source for information. When it comes to the news, there is no substitute for a factual, balanced story. And while it's true that more people are discovering news of the day through Facebook and other social media, such sites deliver information in headlines and sound bites. More often than not, those seeking the deeper story click on links to traditional news media websites. Additional evidence of traditional media's influence is the fact that more people are finding their way back to the network TV news. Last June, in an interview with Forbes, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley noted ABC, CBS, and NBC collectively added more than a million viewers to their evening newscasts.
More people are turning to mobile devices for news, and traditional outlets are capitalizing on this audience. The growing use of tablets and smartphones has led to a spike in the amount of news people consume. Traditional media outlets are racing to capture a bigger share of this audience through emerging technologies. So far, their strategy seems to be working: Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported traffic from its mobile users grew to 32% from 20% the previous year, and the publication predicts that number will swell to 50% this year.
Integration is the key to success. Digital and social media have opened new channels of communication, but there will always be a place for traditional media. In public relations, our secret weapon is using a combination of tools to amplify our clients' messages. Original content and other new media are terrific adjuncts – not replacements – for traditional media.
Lisa Noble is SVP and director of public relations at Cramer-Krasselt Phoenix.