The news for traditional news media outlets continues to get worse. According to U.S. Labor Department data, jobs in the newspaper sector have declined nearly 60% since 1990. That is a staggering statistic, especially when one considers how the local paper used to be a routine part of everyday life.
Magazines lost 36 percent of their jobs during the same period, with radio employment down 27%.
Internet broadcasting and publishing employment, on the other hand, has grown from about 30,000 to nearly 198,000, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
None of this is terribly surprising, given that these trends have been going on for some time now. But what’s noteworthy is that a new study involving nine countries found that people are spending less time on social media apps.
Instagram and Twitter were both down nearly 24%; Snapchat use declined by about 16%; and Facebook by 8%. In the U.S., only Facebook fared better (though slightly)—it was down only 6.7% here.
News media outlets are declining, and so is the use of social media. What are the implications for public relations? Some perspective may be helpful.
First, people are not communicating less, but rather in different ways.
Texting, for example, likely accounts for some of the drop in social media usage. Plus, new mobile apps are constantly being created, giving users additional options for making connections in new ways.
Second, while people aren’t reading newspapers and magazines like they used to, the exponential growth in Internet broadcasting and publishing jobs demonstrates that they are still interested in news and features, it’s just that many are getting them online.
As I noted in a July 2015 post, social media has become an essential part of journalistic practice, with 94% of journalists saying they use it daily, primarily to find sources and network. That percentage is probably even higher today. So, while use of social media apps may be down among general users, it’s still an important for organizations and individuals to be “discoverable” for journalists seeking sources.
Social media will remain an important way for companies and agencies to interact with customers and prospects, even if some of the apps used to reach them evolve.
Finding new ways to communication is the new norm for PR professionals. Knowing your audiences, and how they prefer to receive information and communicate with you, is vital to PR success, as is staying on top of trends.
There will always be an audience for people with expertise in a particular niche who are willing to share helpful information and tips, regardless of the medium used. And in spite of all the changes taking place in media, getting the right message to the right person at the right time is still the best path to PR success.