We’re often asked what will happen next for the media in our media training courses – where’s it going from here? What is next to change and develop? What trends do we see for journalists, PRs and social media? Like so many industries, technology was already disrupting the media world when the pandemic struck and accelerated these changes.
Here are five trends to look out for in 2022 – and beyond.
Increasing Niche Publications and Outlets.
In October, Axel Springer announced that it had completed its acquisition of POLITICO, one of the world’s most influential sources for political news, to add to other specialist titles such as Morning Brew, a daily email newsletter “covering the latest news from Wall St to Silicon Valley,” which it acquired in 2020. These acquisitions mark the latest example of what is sometimes described as “nichification,” this is the growth of specialist titles.
The explosion of online media over the last decade or two has reduced the barriers to entry into publishing. Subsequently, the number of titles with a particular interest aimed at specific audiences grows. Getting coverage in one of these outlets might not have the cachet of a piece in the Financial Times or The Sunday Times, but PRs and Comms teams can use these niche outlets to speak to their target audiences. As always, it’s about the audience. In our media training courses, we ensure that interviewees focus on the readers, listeners, and viewers when they think about the messages they want to get across, the words they need to use, and the stories they can tell.
Substack will go from Strength to Strength
Ask any journalist – especially those with a few years in the business under their belt – about the state of journalism’s finances, and they’ll tell you a sorry tale. And yet, some journalists are now earning significant amounts of money through Substack, an online platform for subscription newsletters. Essentially, if you’re a fan of a particular journalist, you can subscribe to their newsletter rather than looking for their work in a newspaper or magazine. Subscribers rocketed from around 250,000 in December 2020 to over a million this November.
You won’t be surprised to hear that Substack is currently bigger in the US than here in the UK, with writers deserting the New York Times among other publications to go it alone on the platform, which is just four years old. Other prominent writers include Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Outliers and Glenn Greenwald, who worked with Edward Snowden. We predict that Substack will snowball in 2022, especially on this side of the Atlantic.
We’ll probably see the launch of competitors as well. Those in corporate communications can target Substack writers to reach new audiences on behalf of their clients.
Podcasts will not Change
Monthly podcast listener numbers are expected to show a 10 per cent growth year on year as we head towards 2022, according to eMarketer. According to Podcast Insights, there are around 2million active podcasts in existence and more than 48million podcast episodes. In 2018 the figure for active podcasts was just over 500,000. We’ve found that demand for our podcast training courses has increased enormously over the last two years. Interestingly when we launched them, we excepted the vast majority of participants to be guests on podcasts, and we’re still training people on how to do a podcast interview rather than a radio interview.
However, we’ve also noticed more and more people asking us to train them to host a podcast. This involves everything from identifying the theme, writing scripts, inviting and interviewing guests, and promoting the finished product.
Video will remain an Essential Source of News and Information in 2022
TikTok now reaches a quarter (24 per cent) of under-35s, according to a recent report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Meanwhile, in the UK, the proportion selecting TV news as their primary source of news was up to seven percentage points to 38 per cent, while in Ireland it has grown to 41 per cent, up eight percentage points. “In both countries, we see increased TV reliance across age groups, though older people, of course, still have a much greater underlying preference for TV news,” says the Institute in its 2021 report. Moreover, journalists find themselves being asked to get out their smartphones and video an interviewee, even if they’ve just interviewed that person for a print outlet.
There will, therefore, be a growing need in 2022 for PR consultancies and press offices to ensure that their prominent spokespeople are ready to appear on camera. “I’d never do a TV interview” is something we occasionally hear in our media training courses, but these days we’re increasingly likely to say: “Are you sure?”. Getting your message straight and identifying examples to back it up during a press interview is essential, but then being ready to deliver it during a short period with the right vocal skills and body language on the screen will be more critical than ever during 2022.
More Paid-For Content
Paid content is essential for PR consultancies and in house Comms teams because increasingly, in 2022, they’ll find that journalists are asking them for quotes and interviews for content to be published not in conventional news websites but as blogs and content for company websites. Blogs and think pieces by company employees are satisfactory. Still, articles that don’t promote the company and are written by independent journalists and other authorities carry more weight.
In 2022 we’ll see more general news, insight and analysis provided by companies rather than media websites. Communications professionals will need to think about whether they contribute to this content and how they ensure that they don’t put forward clients to contribute to a piece of content that blatantly promotes particular products and services – some of which could even compete with their offering.
Social Media Takeover
Whatever else happens in 2022, we’ll see fewer journalists having to do more, while social media drives conventional media’s agenda and working practices. We also believe that more organisations will be vulnerable to crises as consumers become more demanding. Mobile phones mean that anyone, anywhere, can report on an incident and share it within seconds. Regulators become more active and likely to sanction and publicise what they see as breaches.
This brings us to our final prediction for the media in 2022: media and crisis communications training will be more critical than ever.
Communicate Media Training ensure you as an individual or an organisation is prepared for every eventuality regarding media interviews and developments in the coming months and years.
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