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News Consumption Grows as
Mobile Mania Spreads

imageNews now surrounds us all the time, everywhere. And apparently, many of us are surfing the web, reading news online while we stand in line at the grocery store, watch a soccer game or eat lunch.

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism recently released their 2012 State of the News Media report. This year, there is some great news for fans of media and long-form journalism: “the spread of mobile technology is adding to news consumption, strengthening the appeal of traditional news brands and even boosting reading of long-form journalism.”

The research also shows that this mobile surfing isn’t replacing traditional news consumption so much as adding to it. People are getting news on multiple devices: phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.  And we’re spending more time with the news, visiting news sites more frequently, and spending more time there when we visit.  The reputation of the brand or news organization is key: A PEJ survey recently found that reputation is the primary factor in where we go for news. This is, according to the survey, even more true for those of us browsing on mobile devices, in spite of the import of social media sites (recommendations from friends aren’t influencing where we get news nearly as much as brand identity).

But this mobile boom isn’t only changing how we consume news, it’s also changing how news is created. In our recent survey, 36% of the journalists surveyed told us they are using a smartphone, BlackBerry or iPhone to research story ideas and receive releases and 18% are using an iPad or similar tablet. While everyone is still working at their desks, many are working on the go now as well, so journalist-friendly assets should be designed with that in mind.

What does it all mean for PR professionals?
Creating positive and effective relationships with the media now has a digital side. Journalists need easy access to transferable digital assets. Part of a PR professionals job is to make that easy for them. Here are a few tips to consider when creating websites, microsites, newsletters, releases or other online collateral to ensure it works and renders well across all mobile devices:

Avoid Flash (it doesn’t render on iPad or iPhones so consider Javascript or HTML 5 in lieu of Flash).
Add mobile-friendly links to all emails.
Include easily transferable, multimedia assets to news releases so journalists can easily use your stuff to create dynamic online articles.
Design web buttons large enough to be touch-friendly.
Phone numbers show up as links on iPads and iPhones, so make sure they're readable.
Preview all sites and emails on various mobile devices before you go live.

An email viewed on various mobile devices

Use video players that work without Flash so your video can be viewed on iPhones and iPads.
Design with color in mind. Some email programs default to blue links and won't show up on a blue background.
Consider apps as an extension of your site.
Consider using responsive web design that will adapt to different devices.