RISJ Digital Survey 2013
RISJ Digital Survey 2013

Research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) at Oxford University has found that mobile phone are becoming the main to news for people on the move.

The report, which surveys news consumption habits in France, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and the US, as well as the UK, found that audiences increasingly want news on any device, in any format, and at any time of day.

The report identifies 25-35 year olds as the age group most willing to pay for online news across all nine countries surveyed. Yet just over one in ten (11%) of online users of all ages who participated in the survey said they had paid for news in the last year – about one third higher than the average in the 2012 survey.  The report says that this rapid increase can be partly explained by the relatively low starting base, but it highlights significant growth in the percentage of consumers who have paid for digital news in countries such as the UK, France, Germany, and US.

The survey also shows surprising national differences in the rate of online participation. The Spanish (27%), Italians (26%), and Americans (21%) were more than twice as likely to comment on a news story via a social network as the British (10%). Meanwhile urban Brazilians were five times more likely to comment on a news site than the Germans or Japanese surveyed, and nearly half (44%) shared a news story on a weekly basis via a social network, with around one third (32%) doing so by email.

Of those who are not currently paying, across all the countries more than one in ten (14%), on average, said they were ‘very likely’, or ‘somewhat likely’, to pay for digital news in the future.

The way that people are consuming and commenting on news is having a defining effect on public relations. Many organisations are going to have to realign their engagement and outreach work, and spend more time listening and learning.

If you would like a copy of the report then with thanks to @NicNewman you can download a copy from my Scribd account below.


Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2013 by twofourseven

Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak
Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak

The London Evening Standard came under fire today for breaking the strict embargo placed on the 2013 Budget, as the newspaper published details of the Budget on Twitter before George Osborne took to the dispatch box.

The Standard shared a picture of it’s front page that detailed the 2013 Budget on Twitpic, an image that was picked up by MPs in the House of Commons and Journalists that were covering the 2013 Budget.

While the image was quickly deleted from the social network, the damage was done. Research from Topsy.com (select cached Page) reveals that over 2,000 viewed the image. It also got retweeted by Sky’s Adam Boulton (@adamboultonsky), The New York Times Sarah Lyall (@SarahLyall) and other influential journalists and bloggers.

The paper’s Political Editor Joe Murphy (@JoeMurphyLondon) was forced to issue an apology on Twitter even though it was certainly not him who shared that image. Editor Sarah Sands meanwhile issued the following statement, ‘An investigation is immediately underway into how this front page was made public and the individual who Tweeted the page has been suspended while this takes place. We have immediately reviewed our procedures. We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.’

For some reason Osborne’s advisors chose today, when all eyes would be on him, to unveil his Twitter account. An odd choice of day given the Chancellor’s unpopularity in the polls and how the public share their views online. A very bad call in my opinion.

Twitter is a news channel, one that because of today’s real-time digital age can inflict greater damage. And while embargo’s have been a traditional tool in the armoury of PRs, in today’s digital world it is a public relations professional job to maintain total control of the story, especially a story which contains market sensitive information. Twitter and digital are hard to control. Conditions on the sharing of content online must have been secured.

It’s been a bad day for HM Treasury’s PR team, but a worse one for the Evening Standard.

Twitter is changing public relations. It’s making media outlets more competitive. As some on Twitter have said, The Standard’s story was just ‘too hot off the press’. Don’t take it for granted!

Research unveiled today by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reveals how smartphones are starting to ‘play a significant role in the consumption of news.’  The institute’s 2012  Digital News Report (#risjdigital2012) tells how more than one in four of those questioned accessed news stories via a mobile device or tablet.

While traditional journalism providers like the BBC, Sky News and individual print outlets remain central sources amongst consumers of news, the size of the audience getting their news from unverified sources is growing, especially amongst the 16-24 age group.  The report additionally reveals how outlets in the UK have been ‘relatively quick to innovate, with developments such as live blogging, social media, and data journalism – leaving little space for new providers.’

These findings not only put questions on how news organisations deliver content to the public, but how, through public relations, governments, companies and other organisations can better engage and communicate with their respective audiences.  Traditional PR in this 21st Century is no longer an option.  Reaching the audience has to be done by understanding where the public is and when and what they want to receive.

Considering the speed of news dissemination through Facebook and Twitter, especially when content is verified, it is becoming essential to change the approach that brands use to engage with their individual publics.

Newman also reveals in the report how news spreads through social networks, with 78 per cent saying they were more likely to click on a link from friends and other people they knew if they had shared content during the past week.  Newman adds in the report that Facebook is still key to disseminating of news online, with 55 per cent using this platform, against 33 per cent using email and 23 per cent using Twitter.

Further details can be found in the report, which will be unveiled at MSN this evening, 11 July 2012 from 18.00.  Follow the Hashtag #risjdigital2012 then for comment and discussion.

Reuters Institute Digital Report 2012


NeverSeconds Blogger Martha Payne with Chef Nick Nairn

Argyll and Bute Scottish local council made headlines today after banning a 9 year old from blogging about her school meals, a decision which they then promptly reversed after a global social media campaign.  Their initial decision smacked of a #PRfail by council officials, confirming the outdated type of PR knowledge they have.

Nine-year old Martha Payne set up her Never Seconds blog in April this year to record the meals at her school and give each tray a score out of ten while raising money for charity.  The blog immediately attracted the interest of chef Jamie Oliver, who campaigns for healthier school meals.  As a result, the number of visitors to Martha’s school food diary swelled to over 1 million in it’s first month with international titles such as Forbes, MSNBC and The Toronto Star highlighting the blog for everything that is good about the internet.

In June though, and after the ‘Time to fire the dinner ladies..‘ tongue-in-cheek headline in The Daily Record, the local council weighed in, telling the school to get the nine-year-old to stop blogging.  The order was duly passed, without any understanding of the support that Martha had built online.

In a very matter of fact way, council bosses, more used to issuing corporate diktat, told the media that their reason for censoring the blog were because they wanted to ‘protect staff who were concerned for their jobs.’  Hmm, really?

The fact is that their lack of understanding of online audiences and communities by council officials led them to make a rod for their own back, further damaging their reputation and confirming how traditional public relations is dying a slow death.

Social media just connected the dots, but the lack of understanding by council leaders and their public relations professionals confirms that they are not the only issues out in the wide world.  Public relations today is about audiences and making decisions knowing full well how people in groups will react to these.

As for Martha, well, to date she has raised over £48,000 for work in Malawi.  The audience which can judge, can also help!

This time last year I made a series of predictions about social media and public relations.  I suggested that while 2010 was a year of discovery, the past 2011 was going to be about sharing and engaging.  About communities being empowered by the knowledge they will have pooled together.  I highlighted from my perspective the challenges and opportunities that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will pose for companies and individuals.  The impact that social networking has had on events during the past year has truly been beyond what anybody could have expected.

While 2010 was about Wikileaks, the past year has been about challenging the reputation of companies, organisations and individuals that used the law to hide their indiscretions.  Twitter and other social networks came into their own as members of the legal profession struggled to grasp the structure of communications across international jurisdictions.

In my post ‘2011, A Year Of Change In Public Relations,’ I said that the coming year was going to be about communities that were engaged and empowered.  Wikileaks showed what you could do privately.  Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were the channels through which you could anonymously share content and opinion.  They are the channels that gathered a community together, empowering them to seek the transparency that was far too often absent.  Even the once trusted media estate came under the gaze of the community.

The Arab Spring in North Africa was an occasion that surprised many commentators. Sharing of stories on Twitter about high-profile individuals was going to happen.  Managing reputations has now moved into a real-time business.  In fact, if something wrong has been done it is today best expected that such an act will become public.

Last year I also raised the point about the power of mobile, of cellphones.  Wherever you are you have a cellphone.  You are connected to a world of real time information that reaches you as quickly as you wish to access the news that is available.  News shared by the network that you are connected to.  Reliance on traditional news channels is long gone.  News is shaped by members of the communities that we trust, which is why from a public relations perspective crises are today that when audiences go negative on a brand, cause or individual.

As I stated, news organisations are not dead and they are certainly not dying.  They are just changing and adapting to become what their primary audience wants of them.  An adoption that will continue in the 2012.

But what about the coming year?  Well, I am finishing my thoughts on this and will share these with you pretty soon.