What does the latest Ofcom report mean for PR? (Spoiler: digital isn't going anywhere)

The Ofcom Communications Market Report 2018, published this week, tells the story of changing media consumption and behaviours in the UK. Here's what the PR industry should look at:

1. The ever-connected consumer

#DigitalDetox may have been trending over the summer holidays but there’s no sign of anyone switching off anytime soon. According to telecoms regulator Ofcom, consumers spend more than 24 hours per week (four whole days and nights per month) online.

Thinking digital first when planning a communications strategy then is a no-brainer, but in a seriously cluttered online world, brands need to be more innovative and meaningful than ever to stand out. Essentially, be prepared to make consumers fall in love with your brand all over again, every single day.

2. The inseparable smartphone

Ofcom reports that almost eight in ten UK adults (78 per cent) use a smartphone, with the average Briton checking their smartphone every 12 minutes. For communications experts, this means one thing: design and build for mobile. It’s not enough for content to simply be ‘mobile-friendly’ – it needs to be designed for the device and to guide the consumer journey in creative ways.

3. The all-new telly

TV closely follows smartphones in popularity, with nine out of 10 people watching TV every week, for an average of three hours 23 minutes a day. But we aren’t just talking about traditional telly watching on broadcast channels – in fact, the telly is now more digital than ever, thanks to services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

High-quality videos can be viewed pretty much anywhere, given access to a smart device. Forward-thinking PR experts will not leave this medium out when brainstorming their next campaign.

4. The still shining radio star

While the radio was briefly overlooked in favour of more visual media, it’s experienced a disruptive resurgence in recent years by evolving and making room for itself on connected devices and on-demand and streaming services.

Nine in ten UK adults listen to the radio for an average of nearly 21 hours a week, and 75 per cent of all audio listening is to live radio. Digital hasn’t killed the radio star.

5. The digital divide

Just because it looks like everyone is on the internet, doesn’t mean audience engagement is simply down to a solid digital strategy. Ofcom has found that lower-income households and over-54s are less likely to have smartphones, laptops and tablets, but are as likely to have a TV. In other words, you’ll still need to work hard to reach non-internet users.

6. Emerging voice phenomenon

While the overall take-up of smart speakers remains relatively low at 13 per cent, it varies by age group. Ofcom suggests that during the first half of 2018, 16 per cent of 16-24s, 25-34s, and 35-54s in the UK owned a smart speaker, although this figure more than halved, to seven per cent, for those aged 55 and above.

Key takeaway? A voice marketing strategy alone won’t work – not just yet. To impact consumer behaviour, voice needs to be seamlessly integrated into the bigger picture.

Stephen Waddington is partner and chief engagement officer at Ketchum 

Thumbnail image ©GettyImages

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