New study shows how tablet computers will change how you provide info

Mobile devices are driving dramatic changes in news viewing and presentation

If you want to know what kind of releases you will be putting out in the future (say, something like the next few months) all you have to do is take a close look at this latest study. Done by BBC and Starcom MediaVest and written up in Poynter (Northwestern University) the study shows how the tablet experience in changing how people access news.

Highlights: 1)Tablet computers users rely more on traditional news sources rather than aggregators.

2) They also have a higher interest in news than before getting their tablets. In other words, they are likely more interested in news than the average Joe, but once they get their tablet they are even more interested in accessing news than they were before (I admit, reading the Economist and other news sources when I want to is one of the main reasons I got an ipad).

3) They enjoy it more and find it more engaging--probably why their appetite for it is increased.

4) News apps are the number one apps used on tablet computers--that alone should tell you something.

What does this mean for you?

Tablets are engaging because they are rich in content and they give the user control.

Rich in content. In the future, you will be putting out information that is a blend of text, images, video, graphics and interactive elements. It will increasingly be blended together. If your idea of what your work product is is still the paper or even email with "For Immediate Release" or even "Media Release" on it, fuggedabowdit. Your audience is the news viewer--not the news repackager, and what they want is a rich, engaging experience.

But they want to control it. They want to decide whether to read the skimpiest headlines or dive deep into the most arcane details. They want to decide whether to watch a video, even interrupt the flow to go into an area where they are most interested. They want to decide to look at pictures, which ones to view, how far to go into it. They want it incredibly easy to share just the content they want, and they want you to do the work of preparing the content for best possible presentation on whatever device they happen to decide to use at the moment, from the most compact pocket system to their 80" big screen at home. And, the graphics and images better be 25 gazillion p or i or whatever the HD standard is at the time.

In Poynter's summary of the study, here is what these viewer-leaders say they want from you:

  • 85 percent want options for “further customizing the depth of coverage I see for different types of stories.”
  • 85 percent also want “more tablet-specific content that allows me to interact with news stories in a hands-on way.”
  • 80 percent want the ability to “customize the format of news coverage for certain types of news stories.”
  • 73 percent want news feeds or stories that are “automatically related to where I am and what I am doing.”

You might think--oh, they are talking to the news media whose job it is to meet these needs. No, no, no. We're in the age of direct communication. If you are PIO or a communicator for an organization, YOU are the broadcaster. And the sooner you know what your audience expects from you the sooner you can adapt to meet those expectations.

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