How Your Prospects Consume News (It Depends on Where They Live)

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New research from Pew Research Center shows that the type of local news sources Americans use depends on which type of community they live in.

Depending on the topic, urban residents are more likely to use mobile and online sources; suburbanites are most heavily into social media and rural residents are more inclined to word of mouth sources.

Differences in the platforms that people are using geographically is likely tied to lower overall use of the Internet and mobile platforms in small towns and rural areas. Here are some highlights from the study, and what they mean for you as a marketer:

Cities: Digital-Heavy

Urban residents typically rely on a combination of platforms: search, social media, news blogs and the websites of traditional media outlets. They are among the most likely to use a combination of all three major types of local news media (print, broadcast and radio), but show a preference for digital media consumption.

  • For residents of large cities, the Internet is the preferred method for local news and information, particularly on local restaurants, other local businesses and schools.
  • A combination of digital and print are the top sources cited for following news about local arts and culture.

Suburbs: Digital-Traditional Blend

Suburban residents bridge urban and rural news consumptions patterns. They rely mainly on digital platforms for local restaurants and other local businesses, but  prefer broadcast for traffic news, and print newspapers for local issues.

  • This subgroup relies heavily on social media for breaking news and recommendations as digital news participants (sharing links via email, contributing to online message boards, etc.)
  • 53% of suburban residents have shared or helped create local news or content via digital publishing platforms.
Rural: Print, Broadcast, Radio

Rural residents are more tied to traditional forms of media (print, broadcast and radio), with print newspapers ranking highest for following community events, local government, and arts and culture. They also demonstrated the highest affinity for word-of-mouth messaging with high levels of community trust.

  • Print newspapers are the preferred source among rural residents for following community events, crime, and arts and culture.
  • For breaking news, broadcast is preferred over print and digital.

So what does it all mean for marketers and PR pros?

Be where your audience is!

The use of mobile devices is more common among those in urban and suburban areas. 53% of urban and 57% of suburban residents in the survey use of a smartphone or tablet to access news or information online, compared to only 35% of rural residents. Limited access to broadband Internet may prove troublesome for marketers employing mobile as part of their overall strategy.

The big lesson:  understand how your prospects and customers consume information regionally and by demographic area. You put a lot of effort into your campaigns. Now make sure that the right prospects are seeing them.

Need to reach prospects through search, social media and the news? The Vocus Marketing Suite can help.

Image: inkknife_2000 (Creative Commons)


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