“I saw it on Apple News”: Changing Feeds, More Reads and the PR Opportunity

The content aggregators who play an increasing role in determining what we read and view on our mobile devices and other digital platforms – where consumers spend as much as 6.5 hours of their daily media consumption time – have recently shifted their emphasis from advertising to editorial. Take, for example, Apple News Plus, which puts ad tracking technologies aside in favor of a premium content subscription model, offering access to 300 magazines, The Wall Street Journal and more news and lifestyle titles.

A sample Apple News feed as seen on a user's phone.

While the model is not without its challenges for publishers, Apple News Plus certainly has its benefits for both publishers and readers – making it infinitely easier to discover and engage with more content more often. So much so that it’s becoming core to our everyday vernacular to say, “I saw it on Apple News.”

In 2019, more robust digital newsstands and revamped subscription news services are proving effective in growing audiences, stemming the tide of declining readership that many traditional publishers have battled for years. In just Q1 of this year, The New York Times, with its ever-expanding coverage and an increasing volume of high-end video production, saw digital-only subscriptions jump by an impressive 223,000.

According to MRI, nearly 6 in 10 of us check our phones first thing every morning. Some log onto Apple News, while others scan their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds, or open their email to read the Times, theSkimm or other subscriptions. News and social feeds are transforming to highly personalized, curated experiences. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently suggested that the platform may morph to an “interest-based network,” prioritizing content based on users’ interests – regardless of who posts it – rather than launching Twitter and seeing a feed filled with posts about random topics by individuals a user follows.

All of that is good news for PR pros. Instead of digital platforms driving the demise of news, they’re providing new pathways for engagement with news and lifestyle content – and lots of it. That gives brands more reason to double-down on earned media, with the potential to reach larger and more engaged audiences. But being part of consumers’ morning feed is not just about smart targeting. It’s about relevance, and that’s where the human element comes in. We need to carefully consider how a brand should show up in a consumer’s news or social feed. That starts with finding and understanding the point of connection between what the brand has to say and offer, and what the consumer wants to see in their morning feed.

This article by Laura Tomasetti, Founder and CEO of 360PR+, also appeared in PRWeek.