Your audience left the room

In this shelter-in-place world we find ourselves in, my 14-year-old son was parked in front of the TV.

As I said goodbye to him for the day (and followed up on his plan to do his schoolwork and get some exercise, nag nag nag), I noticed something startling on the TV screen.

Do you see it?

Look on the left, halfway down. More than 113,000 people were watching – LIVE – a guy make digital concrete on an 11-year-old video game (Minecraft).

It struck me that number is significantly higher than the viewership for even a top-market local TV newscast. The type of “hit” that we in PR strive for.

Then I remembered that number is also significantly inflated by the fact that a jillion kids around the world are stuck at home and largely freed from the clutches of school teachers.

But it turns out that local TV news (like all news) is also experiencing a coronavirus-induced spike in viewership, but still pales in comparison.

Guess what the average local news viewership was, in the Top 25 local markets during late March? We’re talking crisis-ridden NYC here, among other markets wracked with the virus.

It was only 68,120 people. Half as much as Hermitcraft. (And late March last year was only 43K.)

But of course, it’s not like you can go pitch the Hermitcraft YouTuber your enterprise software package or your spokesperson on annuities, or whatever you represent. I get that.

My point is that we have got to do a better job at educating our executives and clients that we need to go where the people are. Bosses grew up in a world where media value was equated with the size of the outlet's city. Those days are gone.

People will choose their news media based on what they like, not where they live. (Insert temporary caveat right now, where we are all checking daily to see the latest case counts. When that immediate pressure subsides, this maxim will prevail.)

Your opportunity is to pivot away from local news and find the trade/vertical/specialty media that your core audiences love. If it’s a blogger or YouTuber or social influencer who charges for coverage, then that’s your new reality and you need to adapt.

Who is the Hermitcraft in your niche?

This article was originally published on April 8, 2020

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