The one constant about the media industry is that it’s constantly changing. When it comes to making headlines for a client, the best PR practitioners will keep a sharp eye on what’s affecting the business of news in the coming year, as much as the news headlines themselves.
Here are 5 trends affecting the news media that PR practitioners will want to keep an eye on in 2022:
- Media brand ownerships are still volatile: Recently, we saw Alden Global Capital make an (unsuccessful) attempt to buy Lee Enterprises, a group that owns 90 newspapers around the U.S. This trend of local publications consolidating under larger and larger corporate ownership can mean bad news not only for the newsroom staff, which often gets downsized, but also for the PR practitioners looking to help businesses with locally focused story placements. We saw IAC’s Dotdash purchase Meredith, and ownership changes are often precursors to changes in editorial scope and size. Don’t expect the endless merry-go-round of media brand sales and consolidations to slow down any time in the coming year.
- Newsletters keep growing: It was a good year for Substack, the platform that has many longtime journalists leaving legacy media positions in favor of starting their own subscription newsletter. The company hit one million subscribers this fall and announced a commitment to food content, the second of only two defined verticals. Finding the right newsletter opportunities for clients will certainly be a top priority for PR in 2022.
- More health, more politics: Tired of hearing about COVID and Donald Trump? Get ready for another year of headline déjà vu all over again. As we begin a third year of the pandemic with yet another new variant, and head into midterm elections, expect the media to stay focused on the two news-making topics that they know will grab eyeballs.
- Earning back trust: Speaking of Trump, the former president’s pushing of the phrase “fake news” has some longstanding consequences as trust in the media has dropped significantly in recent years. However, increasing distrust in the media wasn’t created by the Trump era alone. Years of “click bait” headlines and a rush to publish or broadcast resulting in factual errors have all factored into the public becoming weary of what they hear, read and see. Legacy media companies will have to do some hard work in 2022 to gain back the public trust.
- Have we hit peak podcast? In 2019, Vulture asked if we were in a podcast bubble. Another two years of data clearly show that bubble hasn’t burst yet, as monthly podcast listener numbers are expected to show 10% YOY growth as we wrap up 2021 (according to eMarketer). It’s clear that podcasts are long past being considered just a fad, so PR and marketers may find that working with podcasts will increasingly fall more in line with traditional media models for pitching, sponsorship, and advertising.
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