I’m a bit of a dinosaur. On a good day, three physical newspapers are dropped at my doorstep. Of the things that motivate me to get out of bed: coffee and those newspapers play a large role. Being a media relations professional, I am steeped from dawn to dusk (and often well beyond) in the news. This has given me ample time and frequent opportunities to consider whether news is consumed less than it was 10 years ago or at the same rate but via different mediums. For some, public enemy number one is Facebook – thanks to how we, as a society, are seemingly discarding the life of the mind for an existence defined by an endless loop of memes, cat videos and political railings. I used to challenge the notion that one could “get the news” from Facebook. Now, however, I see that it is possible and that this publishing platform is a rich resource for professional services firms.
A physical newspaper is a closed-circuit: all the stories that the editors deemed “news” are bundled up into a defined space. A platform like Facebook is a bit like outer space: you can zoom around in your spaceship endlessly in virtually any direction. Beyond capacity, the critical difference between the two mediums is that a newspaper has a gatekeeper – an editor – and Facebook, and social media in general, do not and are do-it-yourself.
On Facebook, you can follow and curate news sources – including “old media” outlets – so as to create a compelling and deep news consumption experience. You can also choose to follow fringe outlets if you desire. Essentially, you can build a solid house or a conspiracy-theorist bunker. There are virtually no news outlets remaining that do not post their content on this ecosystem.
Personally, I follow everything from The Wall Street Journal to PBS to industry trade publications and groups. Their content is interspersed among the minor curiosities posted by friends and family. Increasingly, I have found Facebook as a conduit to worthwhile content posted by trusted sources I have followed.
The easiest way to view Facebook, in terms of news, is that it is an additional platform for content consumption with a robust built-in audience and top-tier mobile applications. For professional services companies, it is an additional distribution channel to utilize, reaching a broad audience in their leisure time and on the mobile platform. It is worth considering for use in everything from pushing out press releases to posting photos of firm events.
People still actively consume news: it is just that the mediums on which they are doing so have multiplied. Newspapers matter. So does social media such as Facebook.