The Perceived Influence of the Daily Newspaper not in Proportion with its Readership

The perceived influence of the daily newspaper is out of proportion with the volume of its readership and numbers are dropping. However some editors and journalists would still have you believe that they are the sole king and queen-makers in our modern society. However I believe these days are numbered and let me explain why.

Particularly in political circles, the position of the daily newspaper as a central tenement to political success or the political abyss is very cleverly designed. Newspapers report on polls that arms of their own organisation run as demographically representative samples. Media monitoring services from political organizations grab this information and put it in every political PR persons’ inbox to read with their morning coffee.

When the news is bad in terms of poor polling, advisors respond to the potential editorial controversy by actively courting newspaper editors and journalists. Stories are crafted to fit in with their editorial policy and even sometimes newspapers run stories picking a winner in elections as was done in the most recent Federal election. But this begs a few key questions: who was polled and who reads the stories and is the readership of any major news publication reflective of the desires of a broader community?

Take for example our own Courier Mail. It has been going really well in readership figures of late with a readership of 503,000 Monday through to Friday. In a population of 2.2 million that is an amazing figure, however if you break that down a bit further, over half of that Courier Mail figure is aged over 50 and less than 50 000 are under 25. Statistically younger people are moving away from reading newspapers so if they are key to your success will traditional media relations still cut it?

More communications professionals are challenging the notion that traditional media is the only way to reach stakeholders, but in my view not enough. So what should today’s communications professionals be considering if not just media?

The answer is simple, to ignore social media and the impact of self publishing is to communicate with one armed tied behind your back. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with traditional media, rather that we should question whether or not it any longer represents a broad cross section of our community and whether it should be our only focus.

I don’t for a second believe that traditional media is dead but I do believe that any decent communications strategy has to consider the fact that you ignore social media and online publishing at your own peril. So what are the key things to consider?

  • Have a content strategy for social media – create once, use often, for social media, web and traditional media. Utilise tools like Hootsuite to make it easier.
  • Go to where your audience is already – do some research and find out about what tools your stakeholders use and how they like to interact.
  • Incorporate social media monitoring
  • And above all don’t consider that traditional media is the ONLY way to reach your stakeholders.