All PR professionals have sat in meetings with clients, both old and new, in which the first outlets they describe as their “home runs” are print publications such as Good Housekeeping
or The New York Times
While these magazines and newspapers remain a crucial part of any PR strategy and campaign, their online counterparts and new Internet-only media are steadily eclipsing them.
A few weeks ago, Newsweek
became the latest magazine to announce it would cease publication of its print edition
in favor of a digital-only format by year’s end. This isn’t the first announcement of its kind in 2012: SmartMoney Magazine
killed its print publication in the summer, and rumors have swirled that the U.K.’s The Guardian is considering a switch to a digital-only edition
This trend will likely continue in the coming years as, according to the Pew Research Center’s statistics on print vs. online media
, more than half of Americans receive their news from digital sources, and the number of people relying on social media exclusively for their news has doubled in the past two years.
So how do public relations pros communicate this ever-changing landscape and its importance to clients? Here are a few key explanations and details on how to communicate this online vs. print media change in the marketplace.
Earned media begets owned media
As the fields of public relations, social media, and marketing become more integrated, the types of media we work with and obtain are working together more than ever. A piece of earned media, such as a product feature on an online site, can now be used to help shape and create owned media, including client blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts.
High-quality and timely earned-media that is paired with the delivery of well-crafted owned media can elevate brand awareness to the next level and ensure that the media coverage you secured has a higher value to the client.
With the advent of Google Analytics, tracking the results of an integrated social media and PR campaign
has become easier. While Google Analytics can help show the potential impact of a print hit by looking at direct traffic to your website, online coverage can be broken down further by checking out your referring sites.
In the later case, you can see which PR hits drove the most people to your client’s website, how long they stayed, what pages they visited, and more. This level of information can provide insight to clients on what is and isn’t working for media outreach, help provide some return on investment for your work, and allow you to refine and shape your campaign goals accordingly.
It’s a numbers game
A large majority of online outlets have higher circulations than traditional print publications. In fact, many magazines and newspapers are outdone by their own online counterparts. For example, the Sunday print edition of The New York Times
has a circulation of about two million, while the online-only version has more than 15 million unique visitors per month (numbers pulled via Cision).
Clients will always enjoy seeing their product in the glossy pages of a magazine or on the front page of the newspaper, but online coverage has the potential for more eyeballs to be exposed to their product and brand, and for a longer period of time.
Content. It lives!
While that mention of your client in yesterday’s newspaper is probably now in the recycling bin, a mention in a media site continues to live on well past the date it was posted. The article featuring your client will be archived on the site, making it forever searchable to those who might have read or heard about it elsewhere.
Also, websites usually share links to their posts via their social media channels (and they usually include social sharing buttons with the article), ensuring your client’s coverage reaches a broader audience and can be shared and disseminated often and widely.
Print articles will more than likely mention your company’s website, but this requires readers to go to a computer and physically type in a link to access product or brand information. Online media removes that middleman, placing hyperlinks directly to a client’s home page, product page, or blog, in the body of the article. With the simple click of a button, your clients’ latest news and offerings are available to readers.
In addition to this easy exposure, every one of these links leading back to your website is great for your search engine optimization (SEO). As more original articles with links to your website appear on popular, well-respected websites, your SEO value will only increase.
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Integration of assets
Articles in a print publication are limited in the type of assets they can incorporate. For example, print media can only include a photo (and the inclusion of a photo is usually dependent on space) and occasionally QR codes, aside from text. With online features, you have ability to share other assets you have created, such as slideshows and videos, making your client and its product or service that much more attractive to potential consumers.
Unlike magazines that tend to be released monthly and newspapers that come out daily or weekly, online outlets are constantly looking to generate and update content. This need for continuous content creation enables PR pros to not only approach online sites and editors with varied, strategic angles, but also gives a platform to immediately make outreach for clients when there is breaking news.
As media continues to shift and transform, it is our job as PR pros to stay on top of the changes and educate ourselves well enough to explain these new developments to our clients. This will help us maintain relevancy in our field and ensure we are a continued source of trusted information for current and potential clients.
RELATED: How shifting newspaper circ affects PR pros
Alyshia Kisor-Madlem is an account executive at BLASTmedia. A version of this story first appeared on the firm’s blog.