This story was co-written by Natalie Alatriste

As the media landscape is constantly changing, so must PR professionals and their practices. Although every media professional has a different perspective on the evolution of media, one commonality remains true: Media content must serve the public.

Gone are the days when a newspaper or outlet reported on everything and everyone, acting as the “general store” of information. Now more than ever, media outlets are only writing stories that are based on the content their audience and readers want.

Recently, the issues of the new media landscape were explored at an event hosted by The Miami Herald, featuring local prominent media CEOs that included Tom Hudson, vice president of news at WLRN News; Aminda (Mindy) Marques Gonzalez, executive editor of the Miami Herald; Jessica Rodriguez, CMO of Univision Communications Inc.; among others.  We attended the event, and here are some of the insights they shared on the new normal when it comes to media content and best practices.

1. Business models are evolving, especially for publishers

According to Alex Villoch, east region publisher for McCarthy, news companies are dealing with a whole new set of financial and business pressures than before. A rise in digital means a change in the business model, where content is now the deliverable rather than a printed product. In turn, this means the way stories are reported and what is reported is also changing.

The “general store” of information and stories that were once the standard are now obsolete. For example, the Miami Herald cut out specialized sections, such as movie reviews, because its audience was seeking movie reviews elsewhere on the Internet, like Fandango.

In addition, ad revenue is not what it used to be, and publishers are finding themselves having to diversify their revenue streams in the digital age. For example, The Miami Herald Company offers a realm of new services, including contest & promotions, market research, ad design services and commercial printing.

2. Audiences are driving the content, not necessarily journalists 

According to Mindy Marques Gonzalez, editors are more audience-focused, and the newsrooms at the local level have transformed to become more niche. When developing stories, they ask, “who is the audience for this story? Does it fit the needs of our audience?”

This type of mindset, along with the new technology and data capabilities, have together empowered the news to tap into their audience analytics and create content that caters to said audiences’ wants and needs.

Therefore, local outlets (like the Miami Herald) are mainly looking at four types of news stories to please their audiences:

  • Shine a light (on anything that would be important for the audience to know about). This is where more investigative work comes in. The use of article series to relay information – especially on a convoluted or complex subject – is also important.
  • Create stories that show what’s happening locally. Human-interest angles that enlighten an audience are key.
  • Offer entertainment pieces that are relevant to the city and its culture. Everyone wants to know about the new hot spot in town.
  • Drive traffic. Today’s data makes it easy for newsrooms to check audience engagement—from who is reading the story down to the when they are reading it and how long they stay on the page. Therefore, make sure the content is engaging, educational or entertaining for an audience.

3. Media is still very relevant, and local media is arguably more important than national

The reality is that people still go to media to find out the latest news and trends that shape their businesses. But the preference of how to receive the news differs demographically and geographically.  That being said, it’s gotten harder for national news outlets to maintain credibility, especially as technology becomes more important in the way we receive our news.

In fact, according to recent research, only 38% of Americans trust national news sources, whereas 62% trust local news. This is important, particularly for companies and sources that contribute to investigative and hard-hitting news. Even for large, globalized companies, starting at the localized level is encouraged (if it makes sense) because it provides a more intimate approach, adding to the credibility and awareness of your company.

Radio is also on the rise, especially in large cities. Traffic could be a leading reason, as many find that using the time to educate themselves is a great alternative to music. WLRN’s Tom Hudson made sure to (jokingly) state that the traffic is doing wonders for the company’s ratings, as WLRN has become one of the most-listened National Public Radio (NPR) stations in the southeast United States.

In summary

With these new insights, it’s important to consider what is actually news. Often times, news within a company is not necessarily newsworthy to the media. How will the hiring of new personnel affect the average citizen across the street?

Why an audience should care will ultimately determine whether or not your news will get picked up. So next time you pitch the media, make sure your content is (1) creative; (2) timely and relevant; and (3) serves a community rather than a company. Happy pitching!