Tactics, tools and formats for content sharing and engagement are a constant evolution, but one thing remains stable in the sea of change: the need for quality content.
The latest evidence comes from The Pew Research Center’s “The State of the News Media 2013” annual study:
- 31% of respondents deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides them with the news and information that had grown accustomed to.
- Respondents also point to an erosion in quality of coverage, with 61% stating they noticed stories were less complete.
Amy Mitchell, acting director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, spoke at a joint AMA – PRSA event in St. Louis last month about the forces driving this trend. As attention spans have become shorter and audiences increasingly go online to scan multiple sources for news, traditional media have slashed newsrooms and eliminated beat reporters who were once given room to explore more in-depth stories. News outlets feel pressure to be the first to report breaking news, sacrificing quality for speed. But the rushed, surface-level reporting isn’t necessarily feeding audiences’ hunger.
New devices and technology have been blamed for the move to short, immediate pieces. However, the Pew Research study points to reading behaviors that run contrary to what you would expect:
- Of the 31% of adults that own tablet computers (three times higher than in 2011), accessing news is one of the most popular uses for the devices – 31% are spending more time with news; 31% are turning to new sources for news via their tablets; 43% are adding to the amount of news they consume.
- More in-depth reading is also happening on tablets – over half are reading long-form pieces occasionally and 72% are reading news that they didn’t intentionally plan on.
Some news outlets have taken notice and are experimenting with approaches that blend the need for immediacy with the need for more in-depth reporting. I recently read about Fast Company’s Co.Labs’ experiment with stub articles, where they post a short article on a topic and then build on it as developments occur over time in order to cover bigger issues more deeply and thoughtfully. Their initial metrics indicate that readers are embracing the concept.
So what does this mean for B2B marketers?
Before you decry “death to the white paper,” consider the diversity of content in your marketing program. Don’t let the pendulum swing too far in the direction of either quick or in-depth pieces. The secret to success is for there to be a variety of content, all of which is well-written and speaks to customers at different points along the buying cycle (I love this infographic from Eloqua that offers an excellent visual of how various content formats can support customer decision-making processes). When in doubt, aim for quality over quantity.
How are your own news consumption patterns changing? How are you addressing your customers’ changing content preferences?
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