Expert Insights


January 16, 2020

By: Ryan Richert, Executive Director, Global Media

Below are five consumer media trends that we’ll be watching closely at Golin in 2020:

1: More local newspapers fold. According to the University of North Carolina, one in five U.S. newspapers has closed since 2004. In the U.K., 245 newspapers folded between 2005 and 2018 according to PressGazette research. Increasingly, the local newspapers that remain are owned by large corporations. In November, Gateway and Gannett merged, placing 261 U.S. titles under one owner, the new Gannett.

PR implication: Focus on hyper-local angles to those local reporters that remain, and pitch regional and statewide angles to those who write for Gannett, as their work may appear in other papers.

2: Affiliate marketing is on the rise. More brands are paying publishers a portion of their sales when readers click through a link to a product. It’s called affiliate marketing, and even traditional news outlets like CNN are in the game. In fact, People Magazine tells Golin that all of its Cyber Monday product coverage this year was handled by an affiliate team, not editorial staffers. It’s a trend that Golin’s Lindsey Hartman and Jennifer Kron first identified in 2019. Expect it to continue in 2020.  

PR implication: Outlets generally disclose these relationships, but sometimes affiliate stories are still written by working journalists. Embrace affiliate marketing if paid budget allows, and carefully investigate which reporters are truly writing earned stories. 

3: Digital publishers consolidate. 2020 may see more mergers of digital titles, continuing the trend from 2019 when Vox acquired New York Media, Vice acquired Refinery29 and Group Nine acquired Pop Sugar.

PR Implication: Watch closely for reporter moves, layoffs, re-assignments and consolidation.

4: Google elevates original reporting. Google has altered its algorithm to elevate original reporting, prioritizing the stories that start news cycles.

PR implication: Getting the story first will be more important than ever. Golin’s Matthew Gold also predicts that we may see more micro-articles posted by reporters to beat the competition, as well as deeper day-two stories with original elements from reporters who didn’t break the news.

5: Instagram tests hiding “likes.”  The number of “likes” that an Instagram posts receives is now hidden for a portion of worldwide users, including in the U.S. as the social media platform tests an effort to make Instagram “less of a competition.”  While this may be good for emotional health, it shakes up the world of digital influencers.

PR implication: Golin’s Josh Rangel, who has long believed that “likes” alone aren’t a solid metric, says the quality and depth of comments, as well as on-brand/topic mentions, will play a critical role in determining which influencers are producing the most relevant and resonant content if Instagram rolls out this change to all users.