Why Mainstream Media Does Not Care about Your Feelings

My relationship with mainstream media is a complex and interesting one. On the one hand I must always stay plugged into what the mainstream media is covering in order to provide the best media relations service for my clients and on the other hand I am very conscious of the fact that mainstream media is not the only form of media that anyone should consume or prioritise. I have always been an advocate for niche and independent media outlets because they often provide some insight into issues that mainstream media doesn’t spotlight. One thing that has come to the forefront of discussions around mainstream media is the use of outrage and race-baiting to drive traffic and clicks, combined with the overwhelming nature of social media tribalism we are become hooked on outrage and the media is fanning the flames. The problem isn’t so much that the news is being reported or that bad things happen everyday but how the news is being reported and the impact it is having on our collective pysche – from how we digest information to how we rationalise the truth to who we vote for in elections. It is now more important than ever before for us to change our relationship with mainstream media, take the time to assess the impact media updates has on our lives and how we amplify stories and content that compounds the confusion and chaos of this tech driven information era.

I discussed the impact of mainstream media on the #YourBroccoliWeekly podcast along with other interesting and critical issues such as how Labour candidates have used their personal brands and the media as part of their campaigns and what social media trending topics like the book murderer say about us as individuals. 

Let us take the time to consider how we consume the media and what we can do to make our relationship with all types of media more effective and healthy. Even though this is called a post-truth age; we can still search for the truth in all things no matter how chaotic things become. 

How Elle Magazine Proved That Clickbait and Twitter are Not Always a Winning Combination

It is not uncommon for mainstream media publications to use catchy headlines to grab our attention, this tactic has been used to sell papers and magazines for many years. In the digital era mainstream media outlets are now using clickbait headlines more and more to encourage people to visit their platforms, as clicks lead to shares, increased reach and ultimately to advertising revenue. At a time when the online space has become so crowded, with mainstream media outlets not only having to compete with each other but also with influencers, niche media and micro media platforms the use of clickbait headlines has become more prevalent. Unfortunately sometimes these headlines lead to underwhelming content or even worse, fake news, which is misleading people and causing more harm than good particularly during volatile global political climates. Some readers and social media users are wising up to clickbait tactics,  meaning that some people don’t even bother to click and are simply reacting to the body of the tweet which is counter-productive. Those same tactics can easily turn into a PR disaster as  Elle Magazine US  found out recently when they fell foul by tweeting this message about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West:Elle Magazine Kim and Kanye Tweet

Upon clicking the link in the tweet readers were led to a voters registration page – their intentions were clearly good but the execution was in poor taste and the tweet was inevitably deleted after a follow up apology from Elle Magazine. There has been backlash and critique of the original tweet which is understandable, using celebrity gossip in this way is distasteful. But what does it say about Elle’s perception of its core audience and followers if it takes fake celebrity news to encourage people to take something as  important as voting seriously?

Did the tweet work? One could argue that the clicks to the voters registration page increased and hopefully people actually registered (I do not have any stats to confirm this) so it worked.  But was this the best way to achieve the end goal? Are we becoming a society that will only care about what matters if celebrity gossip is attached? Surely mainstream media outlets like Elle Magazine, which is a brand in and of itself, need to be mindful and more careful about how they are using their online influence and their platforms. In a world where fake news has shaped how people vote, interact with and even view each other the media needs to be more conscious of how it shares its messages. From a PR perspective I understand that there is a sense of urgency during uncertain political times and encouraging people to vote is an important issue but with that urgency media outlets must uphold clarity and above all else accuracy. I encourage people to fact check everything they read but in this fast paced media landscape people are relying on the media to provide them with information not misinformation.  We do not want to end up with a society that needs to be misled and duped into doing what is right for all.  As our windows to the world, all media platforms have a responsibility to be wiser with how they engage with their audiences – after all even if a tweet can be deleted the internet never forgets.