An October 19th New York Times article, co-authored by Mike Isaac, Katie Robertson and Nico Grant, headlined “Silicon Valley Ditches News, Shaking An Unstable Industry” expounded on the troubling recent trend of monolithic online publishers such as Facebook, X, Instagram and Google eschewing or drastically minimizing the presence of news on their platforms.
This not only has seismic implications for the news industry at large, but by extension represents a potentially paradigm-shifting transition for the PR profession.
With the newswire being our core business (at the moment), News Direct stands at the intersection of news and public relations. From this vantage point, we have witnessed the diminution of the traditional purpose of the news release - to gain earned media coverage. As that became more and more difficult for most companies and organizations seeking to tell their stories, the objective shifted in large part to dependence on posting of news releases to online sites such as Yahoo!Finance, to social media channels such as X (née Twitter) and to the power of SEO.
It appears as though we are now experiencing yet another transformation, and with it the need to again rethink PR strategy. It is precisely for these reasons that News Direct has embarked on a purposeful effort to diversify our product mix to augment the “push” of content outwardly by our newswire with the amplification of content on our website, customarily known as “pull” technology. In other words, become both a distributor of, and a destination for, content.
We’ve been able to make this pivot in large part due to the exceptional upsurge in domain authority and organic traffic to newsdirect.com. This escalation can be attributed to two primary differences between News Direct and its peers.
First, a big part of our initial vision for News Direct as a disruptive force in the newswire space was to enable the distribution of “standalone” multimedia content over our newswire. This allowed issuers to send digital assets, especially video, across our network without the requirement of embedding that content into a text-based news release, a feature called Digital Asset Direct, that only News Direct provides.
As is now commonly known, Google’s search algorithm has an ongoing love affair with multimedia content generally, and with video, in particular. Thus, our platform has won Google’s affections thanks to the hundreds of “standalone” videos being distributed over our network every month.
Secondly, in January of this year, News Direct launched its own Sponsored Content product, initially dubbed Idea Marketplace but recently rebranded as Town Square. Since then, thousands of sponsored articles have been published on our site in dozens of different categories. This has resulted in our site becoming a powerhouse for organic traffic (500,000 visitors per month), organic keywords (280,000 per month) and backlinks (440,000 per month), which in turn skyrocketed our domain ranking and domain authority (76 and 62, respectively, both with a bullet).
The byproduct of these two website multipliers is that we were inspired to expand our product suite to include other sponsored formats such as podcasting (News Direct Podcast Channel), guest blogs (Blog Buffet) and soon, video/webinars (as yet unnamed).
The addition of these features serves the dual purpose for clients of both leveraging the surge in our website’s popularity as well as continuing to contribute to it. More to the point, it allows customers to lower the risk of dependence on the whims of the all-powerful web publishers by utilizing multiple and increasingly influential formats such as podcasts and blogs to attract eyeballs and amplify content, all from a single destination. As a side note, I can assure all that News Direct will not be transitioning away from “news” – ever – since news is our foundation. That would be like chickens transitioning away from eggs. No eggs, no chickens.
It’s important to note that News Direct posts this content but does not host it, meaning that anyone who clicks to view, listen or read this material on our site is directed to the originator’s preferred site, such as YouTube. That’s a key distinction because our platform acts as sort of a digital usher, with the customer receiving the benefit of News Direct’s web traffic while we drive that traffic to their desired hosting platforms.
Since it’s highly likely that visitors to our site are virtually 100% unique as compared to those that frequent the customer’s landing spot, it’s a near lock that the additional traffic will augment, rather than cannibalize, their existing fan base.
Another compelling component to this formula is that the composition of our visitor universe is quite broad. That’s because the mixture of formats attracts audiences from the PR, IR and marketing community, individual and institutional investors searching for public company news, journalists seeking source material, consumers finding product information within our sponsored articles, podcast enthusiasts looking for an interesting listen - and who knows who else. It’s pretty much a melting pot that cuts across nearly every segment of society – and global at that.
Winston Churchill stated that “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” From the PR perspective, what’s happening on the world’s most dominant online publishing platforms most certainly presents a measure of difficulty. But most game-changing innovations are the children of a need to solve an inconvenient problem.
News Direct believes that technology, for all its potential hazards, possesses a singular ability to help navigate around, or even eliminate, obstacles, when used properly. That’s why we are creating a digital environment that offers alternatives for content amplification that may be jeopardized by changes to how news can be accessed, ingested and engaged with on the macro level. We don’t pretend that this is THE answer, but we’re confident it can be AN answer.