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Feb 26 2019

Keeping Digital Media on Message

Every year, the venerable Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University asks journalists for their short-term forecasts for the future of the field and digital media. While many of the responses—understandably—were deep-in-the-weeds thoughts about the inner workings of the newsroom and strategies on how to counter the “enemy of the people” label increasingly pushed into the public conversation, there’s lots of interesting takeaways for the PR industry, as well.

One of these is authored by Nisha Chittal, engagement editor at Vox. Looking through a news-focused lens, she points out that while content publishers can’t control what social media giants Facebook, Twitter, or Google do, they can control their own homepage. She writes:

A few years ago—just as Facebook traffic to publishers was beginning to soar—media watchers pronounced homepages dead. Consumption habits were changing; audiences were getting more of their news via social media platforms and homepage traffic was plummeting…Today, the social news bubble has burst. Audiences are exhausted, the news cycle is more intense than ever, and feeds are cluttered with noise and fake news.

But audiences know which sources they trust. And what better way to visit a source you trust than typing a URL directly into your phone’s browser and checking out what’s on their homepage? The homepage visit is the ultimate indicator of loyalty: It’s the repeat visitor who spends time reading multiple stories in each visit. Visiting a homepage allows news consumers to actively take control of their consumption habits, rather than passively waiting for things to be served to them through algorithm-powered social media channels.

In 2019, publishers shouldn’t forget about their homepage strategy. Thinking about how best to serve and understand the readers who visit it—and how to maximize how long they stick around—will be key to developing loyalty, trust, and growth.

Public relations professionals know the value those three qualities hold for clients—and, just as importantly, for clients’ customers. With websites often the first point of contact between architecture firms and potential clients, keeping that content focused on the firm’s message is critical. Social media can [and should!] complement that image by documenting the office’s people, accomplishments, and activities, but tweets and ‘grams shouldn’t contradict the core culture of the firm.