Changes in post-Covid media consumption – hype or reality?

Is your organisation targeting the right messages to the right audiences, but through the wrong channels? There is a clear gap between what consumers are reading and what PR people think they are reading, according to an interesting survey from the data analytics consultancy Kantar, looking at audiences throughout western Europe. The risk here is that companies are focusing too much on trendy new channels and missing out on the bigger media opportunities elsewhere. It suggests that communications professionals are over-estimating the speed of change, with the hype around some channels overstating the current reality. For instance according to the research, PRs believe that audiences are now using social influencers (52%) and podcasts (43%) more for news; yet just 7% and 5% of audiences respectively agree. When asked ‘which sources of news and information have become more important to you/ to consumers in the last few years?’ PR practitioners and 16-24-year olds predominantly answered ‘social networks’, whereas the audience reality for the total population was ‘TV news’. In second place, communications practitioners listed ‘social influencers’ but for 16-24-year olds the audience reality was TV news, and for the population as a whole, the reality was ‘newspapers and their websites’. On the matter of trust, in social and news aggregator platforms this remains low with an average rating of -28%. By contrast the BBC had a trust rating of +58% – although this was before the furore over the Martin Bashir cover-up.

None of this is to suggest that audience preferences are static, or that new channels are unimportant – far from it – in fact, we’ve now begun producing podcasts ourselves for clients. Part of the reason for the gaps in perception reported above may reflect the fact that PR professionals tend to be younger and more metropolitan in their attitudes and tastes than the country as a whole. But any time you hear anyone saying ‘nobody listens to the radio any more’ or ‘nobody watches broadcast TV now, it’s all Netflix’, don’t believe them. And don’t let your company spokespeople miss out on the opportunities that are out there for the taking in the so-called ‘mainstream media’ – much reviled by some, but in reality what most of us are still consuming for quite a lot of the time.

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