As if news media and their parent companies didn’t have enough woes – dropping ad revenue and even lower newsroom morale top the list – more bad news recently crossed the wires. Though millennials, the 18-to-34 year olds marketers are desperately trying to woo, want to stay on top of current events, they hate paying for news, according to two new studies.
A Media Insight Project report revealed 85 percent of millennials feel that keeping up with news is at least somewhat important to them. However, in a poll conducted by Retale, a location-based mobile platform that connects shoppers with retailers, 58 percent agreed with the statement, “I am not willing to pay anything” for digital news content.
You don’t need a PhD in Economics to know this is a huge problem for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and scores of media outfits that have invested heavily to sell online and mobile content to the connected generation. It also creates an unusual challenge for media relations pros whose clients only value placements in top-tier consumer or business outlets.
Fortunately, while the MIP and Retale studies sound a clear warning, they also offer clues to cracking the code for reaching millennials when they consume news – free or not (but mostly free).
According to the data, virtually all millennials consume a mix of hard, lifestyle, and practical “news you can use,” with 45 percent following five or more hard news topics. Rather than trusting national, local and other established news sources (print or online) they’re more likely to trust news that’s been put into context on social networks or via texts from friends and colleagues. Yes, we’ve been telling our clients this for a long time, but now we have fresh data to back it up.
The MIP poll showed 88 percent of millennials get their news from Facebook, 83 percent from YouTube, and 50 percent from Instagram. More than half of them get their news from social sites on a daily basis.
What does it mean to the practice of media relations? A “Boss Talk” in the Journal or a feature on Forbes.com will always be coveted placements, but top-tier media don’t always have to be the “go-to” targets. If millennials are the client’s audience of choice, media strategies must factor in social networks in general, and, in particular how millennials rely upon those networks to synthesize and contextualize the news.