A new study from USC Annenberg reinforces a new reality facing companies trying to build public awareness in a fragmenting media environment: Media outreach alone is no longer a sustainable communications strategy.  Companies now must become their own news agency.  Here’s an excerpt:

The popularity of creating spreadable content, especially video, reinforces the belief that organizations are now their own media channels. With an increase over the last two years from an average of 4.33 to 5.11 (on a 1-7 scale), the use of Twitter as a corporate communication platform has grown dramatically. In contrast, the use of Facebook over the same period has remained flat. Emerging tools and techniques that may bear watching include editorial websites (4.09); multimedia content for mobile devices (3.72); Instagram (2.37); Crowd sourcing (2.19); Pinterest (2.01); and Vine (1.87).

The point is this: traditional news outlets continue to lose audience share. Newsrooms are increasingly overworked, underpaid, and low on morale as media company revenues decline and employee buy-outs ramp up.

To strengthen their voice, companies must create content in-house that is compelling and relevant to their audience.  Next, they must develop a concrete plan to market this content in creative, consistent ways to achieve audience awareness. Lastly, this new content strategy must mesh with a company’s traditional media relations/advertising program.  Traditional media’s audience may be shrinking, but it’s still a substantial audience and should not be discarded entirely.

It’s a tough balance, but the manner which audiences consume content is evolving. Any company determined to stay in front of their most important audience has got to evolve with it.