22 Apr Bite-sized News: How The New York Times App is Helping PR Evolve
If you had any questions about which way editorial content – and, as a result, PR — is moving, look no further than the recent launch of The New York Times’ new iOS app.
Last week, “the gray lady” went full-fledged digital with the release of NYT Now. Dubbed by The New York Times editors as the “reimagining of news” on the phone, the app is backed by its own dedicated editorial staff. That means that, unlike the traditional The New York Times app, NYT Now does not only focus on curated content from the newspaper’s website. Instead, users of NYT Now will receive heavily curated and customized content from a dedicated team of mobile editors, delivered in snack-size, mobile-friendly format, right to their iPhones and iPads.
The fact that such a traditional media stalwart is embarking on this endeavor is noteworthy and, in a way, highly innovative. The New York Times began life in 1851 and, over the course of the past couple of centuries, has obviously evolved into one of the most well respected publications in the world. A client that gets recognized in The New York Times is generally a happy client, secure in the knowledge that their news will be seen by millions of people, both in print and online.
But declining ad revenue, resulting from the perception that fewer people are reading physical copies of the paper, is one of the main reasons why The New York Times is taking this gambit. Although The New York Times Company recently announced strong circulation numbers measuring nearly 2 million for Monday – Friday, and slightly more than 2 million for Sunday, those numbers include digital. The company did not break out print circulation or mention print ad revenue, which has taken a significant hit in recent years.
But another reason is the huge success The New York Times has seen in mobile. Since 2012, the paper’s original app has seen tens of millions of downloads. These, in turn, have spurred digital subscriptions, which have propped up revenue in the face of print decline.
Given this, it makes perfect sense for The New York Times to make a significant investment in mobile. And that investment could lead to a new avenue of opportunity for companies seeking to get their news out to highly attentive audiences.
News apps tend to generate a great deal of loyalty and user “stickiness.” According to research firm Flurry, news and communication apps “tend to have stable, growing audiences” who are “loyal over time.”
This means that, when considering media outreach, we need to begin looking at mobile news apps as a specific target. As we’re seeing with NYT Now, mobile apps can now be considered, along with blogs and news sites, as another news conduit. More than that, they might even pose a better opportunity for company news to resonate with their readers, due to their inherent stickiness and return readership.
In a way, this signifies a changing landscape for PR. It gives us the opportunity to suggest yet another venue for our clients’ news, one that reaches a highly captive audience. That audience is, in general, socially active, which means that said news could easily be shared via Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, which provides even more exposure.
It also challenges us to provide information in more concise, “mobilized” snippets. The days of the traditional media pitch, where we try to pack as much information into a couple of paragraphs as possible, are going by the wayside. Short and clean is the way things have been moving for sometime now. If we’re to fit our message to the mobile medium, we must continue to hone our communications to their finest points. In short, even more so than ever, we must present news as simply as possible, so that an editor can glance at it and, hopefully, go forward and write about it.