Like many, I am a creature of habit. I prefer to start every day, rain or shine, the same way. Coffee. Shower. News… Okay, so that’s a lie. Coffee- yes, shower – yes, but (lets be honest) I do not sit down and watch the news every morning… or evening… or ever.
But, to avoid running the risk of appearing uninformed in front of peers, co-workers or professors, I’ve discovered a new way to stay informed – TheSkimm, a daily e-newsletter created by Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin. TheSkimm isn’t your ordinary newsletter. It’s on the cutting edge of news, making it something it’s never been for most millennials – interesting, and even funny. Interesting, funny news stories? How is this possible you ask? To explain, here are five reasons why the new approach to news taken by TheSkimm and its founders is shaking up the world of traditional media.
- It’s short. Do you want to know what I (and probably 95 percent of the world’s millennials) think about sitting down to watch the evening news for an hour or reading the day’s big stories from the New York Times? “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I can barely make time to shave my legs, let alone stay caught up on current events. Most traditional news outlets are failing to reach today’s instant-gratification audience, whereas it usually takes me a total of five minutes or less to catch up my daily Skimm. You don’t need to make time to wade through the clutter that is today’s news anymore, because TheSkimm takes you straight to the juicy stuff. It’s accessible too. With it sent right to your inbox, you decide when and where to read up on what’s going down around the world.
- They don’t take life too seriously. Just the other day, my dad said to me “The world is going crazy and it’s scary.” And I have to agree. The world is a little crazy and getting crazier every day. But, taking things too seriously takes the fun out life. This is why less and less twenty-something’s and even thirty-something’s are tuning in for Nancy Grace and Ed Shultz and all those other primetime news anchors that are screaming about politics and calling each other “right-wing sluts.” (Ok, so it is kind of) But TheSkimm’s witty “Repeat After Me” and “What to Say When…” headlines, and their satirical yet powerful “Quote of the Day” openers are enough to make you want to read more. Whereas Nancy Grace is enough to make me want to throw the TV out the window. Their novel approach softens hard news stories and spares you the daily dose of depression and anxiety offered by traditional primetime media.
- They know their audience. “I think what differentiates us is that we have a very niche audience,” said Weisberg to the Huffington Post. “Women, 22 to 34, female millennials, smart, in a big city.” This decision to target a small audience set TheSkimm up for success. It has become common knowledge in the PR world that there is no such thing as a ‘general public.’ It’s also being preached to the PR and media choirs that with the digital age, audiences are becoming more and more segmented. TheSkimm isn’t afraid of this fate, but thrives on it.
- They know how to make real connections. You see and hear it everywhere now. “Find us on Facebook!” “Tweet us at (insert twitter handle)!” “Connect with us!” But how many organizations have really, successfully connected with their followers? Not many. There are quite a few Fortune 500’s that could use some pointers from Weisberg and Zakin. They have mastered the art of two-way communication and community building. Many organizations make the mistake of posting only about themselves or their products. In fact, some companies these days are more narcissistic than 13-year-old girls. TheSkimm goes beyond that. They let you see the people behind the funny headlines. They reply to tweets and repost shout outs from followers. They post things their audience will enjoy. How do they do it? They know their “Skimmers” and take an interest in how they live their Skim lifestyle and make an effort to relate to them. They even give them a shout out on their birthdays in the daily Skimm. (How nice is that!?)
- People like them. And more importantly, they’re rooting for them. Weisgerg and Zakin are smart, driven twenty-something’s trying to make a name for themselves as women in a male-dominated profession. They’re best friends and roommates. Wouldn’t you want to take on the world with your best friend/roomie? They both had great jobs at NBC, but took a leap of faith when they quit to create the TheSkimm. That takes guts. “Doing this for the first time is really hard…. We would walk into meetings and we looked young and we were two bubbly girls,” says Zakin, about the challenges of being taken seriously. But despite the challenges, they’ve managed to stay true to themselves. Weisburg described to the Huffington Post that success for the pair simply meant “being able to run a company and still be human beings– be sane, see our family and have lives.” They are relatable and admirable at the same time and that makes them likeable. Any PR junkie will tell you, likeability goes a long way.
Samantha (Sammy) Kirby is an account coordinator for NinerNation Relations. She currently serves as Global Marketing Communications Intern for Momentive Performance Materials Inc. Prior to Momentive, Sammy completed a Communications Internship with Facilities Management at UNC Charlotte. Her other public relations experience includes PRSSA leadership, Outreach Committee member with the UNC Charlotte Writing Resources Center and Newsletter Committee member for the University Honors Program. Her skills include copywriting, editing, media relations and event planning.