Checking news is an essential part of a PR job. Increasingly, PR professionals in India are turning away from newspapers and television sets and turning to social media and messenger services for keeping up to date about news.
This trend is most clearly seen in the young generations. The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017, released in June 2017 says that, “A third of 18–24s [33%) now say social media are their main source of news — that’s more than online news sites (31%) and more than TV news and printed newspapers put together (29%).”
Main source of news by age: all markets
Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017
The survey that covers 38 countries in Europe, north and south America, does not include India. But, many of the news consumption trends are reflected in anecdotal narrations from PR professionals in India.
Syed Talal Mohammad, 26, manager – PR, Percept Profile, shares that, “Social media platforms such as Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram have become my primary platforms besides physical mediums and apps, to stay up to date of the latest happenings in real times and to directly hear from influencers, my favourite sports teams and movie directors.”
Mohammad is also discerning about his news, saying, “Given the rise of fake news; articles and Op-ed pieces by authors on sites like Al Jazeera, BBC and Scroll have become my go to platforms too, where writers voice critical opinions about ground realities. Alt News, a wholly dedicated site to combat fake news, is a leading platform for those who feel this is the need of the hour.”
Messaging apps becoming a major source of news consumption
While, social media remains a major source of news discovery, messaging services are fast catching up.The Reuters Institute Digital News Report shows that, “The use of WhatsApp for news is starting to rival Facebook in a number of markets including Malaysia [51%), Brazil (46%), and Spain (32%)."
At the same time, “Growth in social media for news is flattening out in some markets, as messaging apps that are more private and tend not to filter content algorithmically are becoming more popular.”
Mohammad agrees with this, citing WhatsApp PR group ‘One Source’ as a “First source of news at the start of the day to quickly run through the headlines.”
Harshendra Singh Verdhan who head PR and corporate communications at the fertilizer giant, IFFCO, reaches out to , "WhatsApp Stinger network groups spread across India, followed by by one to one stinger network which is authenticated by ANI & PTI updates. All on Mobile via different apps. Whatever is of my interest is then closely followed and researched. Also, if required than close phone calls with my field persons. I am proud to be part of IIMC Alumni Association network across the country which helps me in getting my news."
Social Media, news aggregators, apps and discovery of news
This is not to say that social media is not an important source of news. 31 year old Nisha Ramchandani, who handles outreach at the high profile seed fund and accelerator, Axilor Ventures doesn't read a hard copy of a newspaper through the working week. Instead she, “Consumes news through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WhatsApp groups.On Facebook, I follow most of the leading media houses and since they share their newsfeed, it is my number 1 source for news.”
And like Mohammad, Ramchandani is picky about where she looks for news. She says, “The only two deviations to the above are my penchant for ‘livemint' and ‘The Ken. I read them both religiously, as the quality is remarkable.”
Vikram Kanth, marketing and communications manager, ABB India looks to search and news aggregators for news. He says, “ I use keywords in the Google News app and also a news aggregator like Feedly Plus which is purchased. I used LinkedIn and Facebook FB too but very specific. I don't read newspapers at all, I read HBR and subscribe to it.”
Aashish Washikar, head — corporate communications, GlobalStep, relies on “Inshorts app and the news feeds. I use these platforms for the sheer format in which the news is presented — short, crisp and to the point. This kind of news consumption helps in keeping the awareness levels at a new high.”
Washikar explains, “The consumption has changed from newspaper to website to app to Twitter. I think this is because, the news makers themselves have adapted to these platforms. From POTUS to NAMO to Anand Mahindra use Twitter to create the news. So why should we the consumers be away from the same?”
Twitter remains a hot favourite for news. Kuheli Ray, senior account manager, Edelman India., says, “If I was paid a cent for every minute I spent on Twitter, I'd probably be a billionaire by now. Twitter is my one-stop-shop for accessing every genre of news. The platform not only gives me real time updates and the option to like-comment-share, but also gives accessibility to the actual news-makers and their points of view."
For PR professional turned entrepreneur, Hareeni Mageswaran of ‘indiaspaawards’, it’s, “ Instagram for information sharing and also LinkedIn.Apart from the habitual print media which also I read online mostly, I subscribe via key word alerts.”
It’s interesting that none of the professionals PRmoment India spoke to mentioned TV news as a source of news.
Deepak Kapoor, 28, image manager, Perfect Relations who used Inshorts and ePapers for tracking news explains, “I don’t get much time for TV as working professionals are largely at work throughout the day. While there is free time in evening, it may be utilised to consume other content available on television.”