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September 20, 2022

Three Startling Stats for Engaging with Young Americans

A widely held belief is that young people are not interested in the news. This perception is largely driven by decades of statistics showing that older audiences watch television news and read newspapers. Last week, however, a new survey from the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, proved that statistic wrong. The survey uncovered that young people do, indeed, follow the news on a daily basis, but without much joy.

As programs and campaigns shift to focus on Millennials and Gen Z as core audiences across the consumer, health, and corporate verticals, these news consumption trends provide three key takeaways for brands aiming to reach the 16–40-year-old demographic:

79% of young Americans say they get news daily, yet only 32% say they enjoy following the news.

Our Take: So much bad news dominating headlines over the last few years reinforces the need for “good news,” or stories people can feel good about reading.

Why? Millennials and Gen Z are feeling digital fatigue likely caused by doomscrolling or doomsurfing: the act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news. According to a study recently published in the August issue of the Health Communication Journal, increased consumption of predominantly negative news can worsen mental and physical health.

The Media Insight Project survey cites that while 9 in 10 Millennials and Gen Z report being online more than two hours a day, 3 in 10 report feeling worse the longer they are connected. To combat this - about half (47%) say they pay attention to the way certain products try to keep them engaged, 27% try to set limits on the time they spend online, and 23% use apps or settings to track their time.

How can we reach younger consumers who are experiencing digital fatigue and wary of misinformation? Pitch news angles that can help solve today’s challenges. Have a new product launch? Lean into how it’s sustainable (if applicable). Have a new health campaign? Focus on the positive impact it will have on patient communities.

71% of this age group gets their daily news from social media, with one third or more consuming their news via YouTube or Instagram.

Our Take: The lines between social media and news outlets are more blurred than ever and brands need to serve up information where their audience is actively consuming it. Communicators must consider tapping into the power of influence to connect their brand to culture in a digital first world.

How? Think outside the typical digital or print interview. Pitch earned interviews for IG Live, popular YouTube video series, and podcasts to drive headlines.

Pitching these digital Editors requires marketers to be as succinct as possible. Ask yourself, what are the main points you are trying to convey? How can you distill your pitch to capture and hold the attention of Social Media Editors with the fewest possible words?

49% of the 16–40-year-olds surveyed follow celebrity, entertainment, and music news the most.

Our Take: Unsurprisingly, celebrities are the main news driver and hook across verticals. This figure underscores that celebrity partners and influencers can be worth the ROI for both health, consumer, and corporate brands as their star-power boosts relevancy, credibility, and newsworthiness. However, celebrity doesn’t need to mean A list (or expensive!). Communicators should prioritize aligning the level of influence with the program theme, messaging, and intended audience, in order to select the right influencer to capture hearts and minds and make headlines.

As you dive into 2023 comms planning, how will you incorporate these news consumption data points to reach young Americans?

Want to learn more? Check out the full report ➡️. Fatigue, Traditionalism, and Engagement: News Habits and Attitudes of the Gen Z and Millennial Generations - https://bit.ly/3xqTYiH


  • Amanda Vega, Senior Vice President, Corporate Media, Marina Maher Communications

  • Katherine Dunleavy, Account Supervisor, Earned Media, Marina Maher Communications

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