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Blog post
June 24, 2019

How to keep the pace in the digital age

A look into the changing consumption of news, and believability

It’s not a new statement to say we’ve shifted the way we consume or engage with news. However, it’s often forgotten that this shift isn’t occurring at a ‘moment in time’, it continues. While whether we click, scroll or turn a page, how we choose to consume our media is also more interesting when considering how this changes the behaviors or trust surrounding this activity.

‘When we are no longer able to change a situation- we are challenged to change ourselves ‘– Viktor E. Frankl

Much like the saying ‘you are what you read’, is our chosen method of consumption a reflection of our identity and which does our level trust in what we read, depend on the format.

While it may be easy to image an older generation still pouring over the news within a double page spread, every generation is playing its part in this shift. Looking at Australia specifically, the younger generation is still driving the most change but is this perhaps only a result of never relying on ‘one’ channel for news.

We look into how the landscape has changed, and what else can be unearthed.

Key findings in the shift of the media landscape   

  • The growth of stories format and the shift to online videos, audios, images and live streams
  • Digital rival’s TV for news consumption
  • Social media has replaced ‘serious news’ with the trending, the viral and the buzzworthy
  • The news cycle is now 24/7
  • There has been a significant increase in fake news and a shift in the amount of trust people have in news
  • Australians get their news from the following sources:
  • Facebook 41%
  • FB Messenger 11%
  • WhatsApp 10%
  • Instagram 9%
  • Snapchat 5%
  • 6 out of 10 New Zealanders read news content online and audiences spend almost 3 hours per watching broadcast TV

Trending news

With unlimited access to news and a 24/7 news cycle, people have to find a way to process the information. News happens instantaneously now and what happens today is often forgotten tomorrow.  In the world of social media, most scroll through their newsfeed and only stop to look at topics and buzzworthy or trending stories that are relevant to their current situation. Not only that, watching short video clips that provide main headlines and brief conclusions are on the rise.

Fake news

A recent study conducted by the News and Media Research Centre revealed that 73% of Australian news consumers have experience a range of fake news including:

  • Poor journalism (40%).
  • Politically or commercially fabricated news (25%)
  • Stories pushing a political agenda (38%);
  • Advertorial (33%);
  • Satire (25%); and
  • The use of the term ‘fake news’ to discredit the media (37%)

Those who mainly use online news as their news source were more susceptible to encountering fake news compared to print and TV and as a result, their trust in the news has diminished.

The number of stories labelled ‘fake news’ seems to be increasing almost as quickly as our concern about it. The term has been used for everything from hoaxes and satire, to contentious articles, and genuinely false information. After a data search was conducted for the number of fake news mentions across broadcast, press and online across ANZ, it was discovered Australia had a significantly higher mention rate over a 6-month period in comparison to New Zealand especially across broadcast. Over November, December and January we saw a large spike in fake news mentions across the ANZ region, especially across online – this could be as a result of Facebook being in the spotlight around fake news stories on their platform and several inquests happening during this time.

With this data it can be assumed that with so much fake news being reported, our trust in news will be affected.

Trust in news

‘Trust in the news is up — but there’s still only a 50-50 chance you’ll trust me on that’, ABC News Online

The trust in news on social media remains low however trust is highest in established news brands, public broadcasters and print newspapers. Consumers seek quality, credibility and reputation when seeking out the news and albeit its use has been declining since 2016, television is still the most popular platform for news consumption. Although there is mistrust, consumption of news on social media is very much on the rise and although there has been a steady hold with the decline in traditional formats, it could be considered ‘a new balancing act’ as it becomes the norm for digital news consumption behaviours to coexist alongside more traditional means.

Shift in demographics

A study conducted by Western Sydney University outlines younger Australians are the ones driving change in terms of news consumption and below are some interesting facts from the study:

  • YouTube is their preferred social media platform (37 per cent), Facebook (15 per cent) Instagram (10 per cent) and Snapchat (6 per cent)
  • They do not trust news organisations and are not reading print newspapers
  • They engage with news stories as it makes them feel happy and motivated and knowledgeable
  • They think news organisations don’t understand young people’s lives and don’t cover the issues that matter to them.
  • Social media is a popular news source, but they are not confident about spotting fake news online

Paywalls

Trust leads to payment for news and those who pay for print newspapers or online news sources are much more likely to trust news than people who don’t pay for it. Australians remain overwhelmingly reluctant to pay for online news as there is so much information readily available for free. But when they do pay, they expect more than just the headlines – with trust in the brand and in-depth news analysis being the primary reasons that they would be willing to pay. Interestingly, although print runs are decreasing, their overall readership is not. The combined print and online readership of newspapers has been growing steadily over the past few years. One of the main reasons for the increased discussions around paywalls are due to businesses having a loss in net profit. As a result of this, businesses are introducing an online paywall, to “win back” their lost net profit. After some analysis, we found mentions around paywall to be increasing month on month in New Zealand as it is becoming more of a topical conversation in the land of the long white cloud. Comparatively, Australia are also discussing paywall however the more prominent conversations were earlier this year (February and March) and have been declining since. Could paywalls and digital subscription services be the future of receiving online content and news?

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We have explored the latest trends and unpacked the current situation faced by the digital banking industry in Vietnam.

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Media Monitoring is more than just a buzz word 

There are many common misconceptions about media monitoring that need to be cleared up sooner rather than later to give your brand the best chance of positive PR. Rather than letting your company succumb to the myths and misinformation being spread around, here are three of the most prevalent misunderstandings and the fact behind the fiction:

There's more to media monitoring than the digital platforms.

Myth #1 - You only need digital

While digital platforms are becoming more important to media monitoring, this is by no means the only area you need to be covering. Tweets, online newspapers and blogs are of course crucial, but so too are traditional media options, like local newspapers, talkback radio and other offline sources.

In fact, the best way to approach your media monitoring strategy is to accept that digital and traditional media are commonly connected, rather than separate features. For instance, social is often used as an extension to broadcast offerings, according to a study from Nielsen.

Here at Isentia, we understand that all platforms are important. No matter how small. 

Myth #2 - Only the big publications matter

For many companies, getting the brand name or products mentioned on a national radio show or published in a country-wide newspaper can mean a big break. Alternatively, a negative story across these major platforms could result in a significant blow to your reputation and profitability.

It is clear, then, that keeping tabs on the big media players is crucial. However, while some media monitoring providers will focus on national newspapers, big brand radio shows and other major publications, these strategies could be missing an important element.

National publications can give you a clear picture of what millions of consumers are reading, thinking and discussing, but this is unlikely to give you much information on what the local people believe.

If your business operates in a rural or remote location, you need to be tracking the local publications.

If your business operates in a rural or remote location, you need to be tracking the local publications - no matter how small. Similarly, even newspapers circulating in smaller parts of big cities can provide a significant level of insight, if only you are aware of their readership and content.

Myth #3 - Listening is the most important part

While media monitoring is critical for business success, listening to the conversations about your brand and industry is far from the be-all and end-all to your strategies.

Once you have uncovered a relevant story or discussion, it's not enough to simply stand idly by and learn from the experience. Taking the next step involves getting an insightful and useable report, deciding on relevant and effective action and getting involved in the discussions.

Of course, this is all easier said than done, but with the right media monitoring tools, you can get started with your best foot forward. Click here to check out some of our services so that you can be on the right track! 

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I crowd-sourced some opinions on ‘how PR has evolved’ via Facebook before this article was penned, and ‘chaotically’, ‘always-on’, ‘unpredictably’ and ‘intense’ were among some of the top keywords surfaced. Exactly how fast is the news-making cycle today? I’ve experienced it first-hand a couple of weeks ago.

9am, on my way to work, I posted on my Facebook page about a new flat fare option launched by local taxi company ComfortDelGro. 

By 11 am on the same day, three interview requests had arrived via Facebook Messenger from three different publications. By 2 pm, all interviews were completed on WhatsApp and my name appeared in the papers on the very next day. The whole event took place in less than 24 hours.

This is a glimpse of how news is made in this day and age. Journalists today are online and on social media; they are following key opinion leaders (KOLs) to get opinions. Gone are the days when they relied solely on press releases and spokesperson soundbites to write news and when public opinion was easier to gauge as people were only accessing a handful of mediums to receive information.

The convergence of digital, social and mobile has added layers of complexity in PR and clearly disrupted the practice, as news today becomes 24×7 and travels across the globe at the speed of the internet. The infamous United Airline incident for example, although happened in Chicago, created an uproar and boycott in China and trended in the top news on Weibo, all because of the power of social media.

The rise of digital and social certainly has benefited PR by creating the direct relationships with people, rather than requiring a media filter. To fully unleash its benefits, the best PR talents should strike the balance between creating content that people actually want to read, listen to or watch, and providing what traditional journalism would consider “news.”

With a good piece of content and story at the core, PR professionals are required to have the ability to navigate an increasingly complex media environment and to embrace the beauty of digital and social to enhance storytelling.

Instead of issuing a formal corporate announcement, why not consider tapping on Facebook Live for product launches and public activations? OCBC Bank recently launched its Stay True campaign via Facebook Live, where the bank’s Head of Consumer Financial Services was put through a lie detector test. The video garnered over 200,000 view to date.

Another example of leveraging digital to innovate traditional PR approach is a revamp of online corporate newsrooms. Dynamic Newsroom is a mash-up of PR, content and digital, which is designed to drive engagement, not simply overload information. It takes the best of everything we know about media relations and hosting content online, to more effectively connect brands with journalists.

Having talked about the benefits and opportunities, I also would like to caution that this trend of digital and social convergence also poses certain threats.

As social media increasingly becomes a main source of news and information and due to the fact that most social media content is user-generated, in order to boost visibility and garner likes and shares, brands and citizen journalists have been noticed to use unethical techniques to make their content exciting or ‘viral’. Such fake news and clickbait headlines are detrimental to brand reputation and consumer trust.

With great power comes great responsibility. The ability to earn credibility becomes even more important in an era of round-the-clock marketing messages. PR is becoming even more important and relevant than ever as the most reliable voice.

Originally published on Digital Marketing Asia 

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The relevance of PR in the age of digital, social & citizen journalism

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When it comes to reputation management, understanding your audience perception puts you a step ahead. Learning your audiences frustrations and what drives them, provides insight into how to positively engage with them. As a PR or comms professional, knowing which audience segment impacts or influences your brand reputation is key, especially when sharing messaging.

Reputation is important at the best of times, yet throughout the pandemic, pharmaceutical companies gained the media spotlight whilst their reputation was under scrutiny. As a result, they had to act swiftly and develop new vaccines for immediate and long term use on a global scale.

How do audiences perceive the pharmaceutical industry?

Since the pandemic, we've learned companies are expected to lead. Large companies that failed to take significant actions lost reputation. Those that acted on the opportunities presented to them, flourished. To build or maintain a positive reputation, companies needed to become agile and evolve their operations. 

By using media monitoring and audience intelligence tools, brand reputation and audience perception can be tracked and managed by monitoring traditional and social data, news and industry-specific artificial intelligence (AI). 

Audience perception comes from customer experience, functionality and reputation across mainstream and social media conversations. With social media being an unfiltered platform, it can be hard for brands to control their narrative. However, when you know what your audience is saying about your brand, you can better understand the influential voices and outlets leading the conversations. Monitoring traditional and social media allows you to:

The change in audience sentiment

As an industry that’s responsible for the research, development, production and distribution of medications around the world, having a positive reputation is invaluable.

Pharmaceutical companies frequently use social media to communicate health concerns, new advancements and potential outbreaks. Furthermore, they have been in the spotlight for the past 24 months, helping a society navigate through COVID-19 and out of lockdowns.

The pandemic led to a rapid change in public sentiments over a short span of time. People expressed sentiments of joy and gratitude toward good health, yet sadness and anger at the loss of life and stay at home orders. 

It’s important to understand audience perception toward health-related content, and how your audience perceives the news you share or is shared about you. As the world turned to pharmaceutical companies for vaccines, heightened media coverage meant the public were listening, watching and paying more attention than ever before. This gave those companies the opportunity to redefine what they stand for.

Australian trust in pharmaceutical companies versus global country average. Source: Ipsos and Statista

The role of social media

Historically, the sector had been tarnished by bad publicity. However, the Ipsos Global Trustworthiness Monitor 2021 report revealed pharmaceutical companies are now seen as more trustworthy than they were three years ago. 62% of Australians say they trust pharmaceuticals, in comparison to a global country average of 31%.

Social media intelligence plays an important role in how audiences discover, research and share information about a brand or product. Pharmaceutical companies need to continue their connection with their audiences, through storytelling. With this, they can influence a positive narrative and maintain the positive shift in reputation.

During the pandemic, Pfizer dominated social media. On Twitter, Pfizer was the most mentioned company compared to other competitors during the same period. Conversations about the actual brand were not as popular as vaccines, yet social media buzz was inline with Pfizer's consequential milestones and notable events during the pandemic.

Audience perception on twitter

With company mentions of this calibre, there’s no denying the number of conversations involving pharmaceutical companies. Audiences are talking in an unfiltered manner. Whether it's about their credibility, reputation, or the effectiveness of treatments, there’s no escaping the global conversations about the pharmaceutical industry.


Companies cannot afford to ignore conversations that could influence their reputation. Rather than treating it as something beyond their control, using reputation management tools within a media intelligence platform can assist in rolling out a more effective and efficient comms strategies on both traditional and social media.

The power of audience perception

A recent study on Eczema & Atopic Dermatitis by our sister company, Pulsar, shows a topic that is considered an intensely private conversation, has since moved online. An analysis was performed on the relationship between influential figures and wider audiences.

The below chart shows what the engagement metrics look like for the 19 most-engaged with accounts describable as either dermatologist, esthetician, medical doctor, nurse or pharmacist. 

From this chart it tells us dermatologists hold authority in this conversation with three of the highest engagement tallies originating from dermatology accounts. This suggests their audience trust their expertise and are favourably perceived.

Comparing the mentions and engagements of the top 19 influencers, by engagement, in the atopic dermatitis and eczema conversation. Sept 2020- Oct 2022. Source: Pulsar TRAC.
Audience perception on twitter
Audiences engaging in the conversation around both eczema/atopic dermatitis and medicalised skincare on Twitter, set against the more general eczema/atopic dermatitis conversation over the same period. Sept 2020 – Oct 2022. Source: Pulsar TRAC.

The above chart shows a comparison analysis on audiences engaging in conversations around both eczema/atopic dermatitis and medicalised skincare on Twitter. This is set against the more general eczema/atopic dermatitis conversation over the same period (Sept 2020 - Oct 2022).

Healthcare professionals remain a significant presence. Viewing the two audiences alongside each other:

  • Young black communities cohere into the single largest community.
  • LGBTQ+ communities emerge as a far greater presence in the wider conversation. 

From this study, we can see there is a seamless loop between conversation analysis and audience segmentation. This allows for a dynamic view of how each community talks about a topic differently. 

3 pillars to consider when repairing brand reputation

  1. Be active and engaged on your social networks to help control the conversations. Turning the mythology around can be difficult, but with a compelling or positive evergreen story, it can change the perception audiences have about your company. 
  2. Monitor what is being said. Negative news gets more attention. This creates unwanted negative conversations and commentary. Tracking analytics, such as media mentions, share of voice and media outlets with a media intelligence solution allows you to keep a vigilant eye on the type of media coverage you’re receiving. When repairing a negative reputation, at least 35% of the company’s share of voice should involve company representatives.
  3. Create a recovery roadmap to deliver on business improvements. Be transparent and authentic when it comes to communicating to customers and stakeholders. This will help with rebuilding trust and repairing your reputation. 

When a company needs to repair their reputation there is a need to use sources of traditional and social media. These will form the pillars of their repair strategy. These pillars can support a comms strategy with real-time data, identifying what's working and what isn’t.

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Blog
Reputation Management: How Important is Audience Perception?

Reputation management is crucial for any brand. With unfiltered social media, it is critical to understand your audience perception.

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