As a modern PR professional, keeping up to date on the news is half the job. It’s important for me to be aware of the current political landscape, breaking news (both locally and nationally), and even the “trending” news, “silly” hashtags and viral topics that blow up our newsfeeds.
Each of these things could affect my clients and the news that I am putting out on their behalf. But with so many other things on my to-do list, I need my news to come to me, and fast. For this reason, I skip the newspaper and go digital. Online news has gotten a bad rap in the past for being inaccurate, but has drastically improved in recent years. This allows me the ease and convenience to get my news whenever I need it – for free.
Here are four ways I choose to get the news, quickly, easily, and digitally:
Email Newsletters/Daily Round-ups
This is my number one, favourite way to catch the headlines – all without leaving my email. Most national news outlets offer a free roundup of stories to those who subscribe to them, and they contain the biggest headlines of the last 24 hours. The New York Times, CNN, even Buzzfeed are great resources, depending on the type of news you are looking for – or subscribe to several. It never hurts to hear a story presented in more than one way.
A personal favorite of mine is “The Skimm.” True to its name, the newsletter provides a way for you to quickly “skim” the news of the past 24 hours in a way that’s easy to understand and digest. The Skimm is written for millennials and filled with pop-culture references and puns for a casual tone. And as a bonus, the newsletter also goes beyond the headlines. It defines the latest slang (i.e. cuffing season, rolfing), offers up some great wine choices, and keeps you apprised on the books that should become your next great read.
News Apps & RSS Aggregators
Let’s face it, when I’m not checking my email, I’m probably on my phone. As an iPhone user, I default regularly to my “News” app to check up on the latest headlines, which have been customized based on my preferences. I work heavily in the travel/tourism realm, so in addition to the hard news I keep up with travel stories (both destination and industry), and as a personal preference, celebrity gossip. My phone also pings me when breaking news hits, so I’m never left behind.
If you don’t have a default news app that comes with your smartphone, there are other options. Feedly, Flipboard, and other RSS Aggregators collect your favorite news stories in one convenient app, and can be customized by topic. And, just like with email newsletters, most large publications have their own smartphone apps that are free to users.
Say what you want about “fake news”, there’s a lot of real news stories circulating on social media as well. The key is finding the right sources and fact-checking. Don’t rely on your friends or followers to feed you the headlines.
I follow a number of news outlets on both Facebook and Twitter, which allows me to get my news directly from the source and in real time. On Facebook, breaking stories are mixed in with the puppy pictures and vacation updates from my friends. But on Twitter, I have an isolated list that contains only news outlets. I can quickly scroll through my feed without distraction from other brands or followers in the way.
Twitter also does a great job of breaking the news via its trending topics. If there is something big happening, chances are the Twitterverse is having a conversation about it. In 2016, some of Twitter’s top hashtags focused on the Olympics (#Rio2016), #Election2016, #Trump, #Brexit, #BlackLivesMatter – and, of course, #PokemonGo. Hashtags are not only a good way to get the news, but also to gauge the public’s feelings on controversial issues.
And when in doubt, go straight to the source. It never hurts to leave a tab open in your browser to your favorite news outlet, and check it throughout the day. It doesn’t matter which one you choose – if the news is breaking, all the media giants will have the story up within minutes.