Changing Channels? A report on changes in media priority for communications

How have priorities changed for in-house PR and communication teams, has social media become the dominant channel? Where does print fit in?

Based on the quantitative results from over 75 in-house professionals alongside in-depth interviews with senior communications executives in the public and private sector, Kaizo and PR Moment have created a report outlining the channel priority changes of in-house PR and communications teams and highlights their views on the complex inter-relationships that exist. In truth it’s complex, and trying to rank them in order of importance misses the inter-relationship between communications channels; stories are broken on one channel and then followed up with a related theme and different content on another. Additionally, the importance of paid activity with both influencers and social media for achieving reach has further confused the overall picture.

The key findings of the report include:

  • The inter-relationships between online, social, print and broadcast channels have changed the nature of public relations work
  • Online traditional news sites are the highest priority channel for senior in-house communicators with, surprisingly, print newspapers the second most prioritised channel
  • With the growth of ‘fake news’, national journalists are still seen as the most critical influencers of public opinion, but specialist bloggers and influencers are also highly prioritised
  • The value of social influencers is complicated by the increasing level of ‘pay for play’ promotions
  • Social media priorities are dependent on budget availability due to ever diminishing natural reach for pure earned content
  • Social media is still managed separately by over 40% of respondents’ businesses and Twitter is the most prioritised by respondents
  • Less than half of respondents measure outcomes such as awareness, yet 95% have it as their number one objective
  • Public relations professionals are required to develop new skills to thrive across digital and social media platforms.

To read download a full version of the report click on the following link: Changing Channels – Kaizo Research

As part of the report, Rhodri Harries, MD of Kaizo, was  interviewed on what he thought were the key findings, as well as his perspective on the industry, the following is  snapshot of this:

Thinking about the different channels available to communicators today, what are the differences between leading and supporting content?

Rhodri Harries (RH): The clever brands are the ones that can understand and exploit the roles of each channel and how they build on each other. When is social the lead that needs to be extended and promoted through paid and earned media? Versus when does earned media lead the news that is supported by information and videos on owned channels and discussions and debate on social? It’s less now about how they integrate, but more about how they inter-relate.

What has been the impact of different social media platform algorithms on earned content?

RH: Ironically, we may see a re-emergence, or at least a reinstatement, of the importance and reach of earned news as algorithms increasingly shut out brand and corporate news. It can also only be a matter of time before Google and Facebook work out a way to block or severely limit obviously paid-for influencers endorsement, highlighting the need for communicators to develop more authentic partnerships – previously known as PR!

What does this research tell us about the reality of influencer relations as opposed to journalist relations?

RH: It clearly depends on objectives, sectors and market, but influencer relations is increasingly becoming a paid channel, whereas journalists should be a conduit to an audience, thus playing a different role. That said, for many media to survive there will increasingly be a blurring of boundaries – if not with individuals then certainly in the way the publisher will view certain news such as product launches and overtly commercial messages.

What channels seem to work better for B2B organisations?

RH: It really depends on the objectives and expected outcomes, most B2B brands are under ever-more pressure to prove value in terms of immediate impact on the sales funnel, so content that elicits a lead in the form of some sort of data (even just a name and email address) is crucial. BS: Measurement of digital channels, and non-digital channels, is utterly achievable for all communicators.

What KPIs do you see becoming dominant?

RH: It is unbelievable how much work is still measured on an output-only basis and how many objectives still are based on metrics that aren’t really measured – such as awareness. A good mix of KPIs is required as, no matter what the budget, it is always possible to measure impact in some way; from Google trends, to web analytics, to measuring change in search through to simple customer surveys to measure perceived profile and significant brand-tracking studies.


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