In just a few months, we approach Google’s 20th birthday and, quite honestly, I couldn’t imagine life without the ability to look up information on a whim. The internet, its search engines, and their gift of quick and easy access to vast amounts of data and information from around the world have changed our society and how we consume content, from the latest news story to updates on your best friend’s cousin’s missing dog (with pictures!). We know it all, because it’s available at the click of a button or scroll of a mouse.
While that’s great for pointless facts like the square root of 657, or the capital of Belize, what about other information? What about news? How does it affect the way we access and read stories that interest and entertain us?
The way we consume the news has changed. Previously, a newspaper contained only the top stories, written with careful consideration and fact-checked meticulously. Now, you can open your phone and flick through thousands, millions, of meaningful or menial articles within seconds.
This infinite capacity for content and unrivalled access is a huge opportunity for us in the PR industry. But we must approach it as both a professional and an everyday consumer of news. Just because the information is there, does it mean it is worth reading? Should we be creating less meaningful content just because it will now be one story in a dozen? The short answer is: no.
The trending story of the moment is, of course, the UK heatwave. A quick Google news search brings up nearly 16 million stories, with topics spanning from record retail results to haphazard health advice. Pretty much anything can be tied in to this incredible weather, but just because it can, it doesn’t mean it will be adding any value.
The impact that the internet, social media and search engines have had on the PR industry has been profound, and in this digital age, it’s clear that the need to quickly digest and report on the latest news on any given channel is at an all-time high. Content can now be consumed by a global audience within seconds, so when used well, valuable information – especially now in its always-available state – is an incredibly powerful tool in PR, depending on how we choose to work with it.
Even the best, most relevant article, story or message can so easily get lost within the ether. It’s more important than ever that we remember how fickle the internet can be and learn to get the message right. Creating and securing meaningful content that stands out from the crowd has never been more difficult, or when done right, more worthwhile.