By admin | October 14th, 2013
Even Sherlock Holmes knows the truth. Although our oldest news medium, nearly every community has a “paper of record” that still is a 500-pound communications gorilla that has the ability to inform a wide audience and provide great depth of coverage. Anyone wanting to fully understand their media footprint, even in this Facebook/Twitter age, should include print media monitoring in their PR measurement mix. Fact: Traditional media generates more media exposure and larger audiences than all online media combined.
While we at Universal fully recognize (and sympathize) with the business challenges many newspapers have faced in recent years, this “traditional” form of media still does amazing work. Newspapers just can’t be matched as a convenient, low-cost, thorough news information source. And that’s true in both big cities–like Chicago, Denver, or Seattle—and in smaller communities—like Red Cloud, Nebraska, or Dunlap, Iowa. Here are four print media strengths to think about when considering your public relations effort:
1. In most towns and cities, the local newspaper still has the biggest staff of journalists. Hand-in-hand with a good bullpen is the idea of specialization. A beat reporter (health, business, education, government, etc.) can be a big help to an organization looking to promote, publicize or influence behavior.
2. Especially in smaller communities, people read their hometown newspaper from front to back. Most weeklies operate without any local media competition, and are open to story ideas and submitted news releases.
3. Newspapers are easy to use and are everywhere. They can be dropped at your doorstep, left out (for free) at businesses for customers, and everyone knows how to use them. And as long as a newspaper isn’t in a trash can, the information it provides is ready for the taking by anyone of any age. No batteries or wifi required.
4. Most community/business leaders and decision makers look to newspapers as the most credible source of information. This isn’t simply a matter of #samerules vs #newtools. Newspaper editors provide a real check-and-balance on news stories that most bloggers will never have. Fact-checking and accuracy is a big deal.
A business or organization that monitors print news clips is also guaranteeing that they are capturing all of their media relations efforts. While many think surfing the internet is the best way to track coverage, the reality is that Web monitoring alone can’t grab everything. In fact, recent studies show less than 30% of earned media content is available for free and online. Can you afford to miss 70% of your news coverage?
Each day more and more newspaper websites are making the decision to put premium stories behind subscription pay walls (The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are two well-known pay wall publications) which prevents web scraping services from being effective. Smaller publications often only put a handful of stories online as a teaser to readers, with their full content available only in print or in a paid e-subscription. Some small newspapers have made the business decision to entirely avoid the web using little more than a home page for contacting them and subscribing.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (yes, a fictional character) said this about the newspapers of London circa 1900 — “The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it.” The media landscape has changed radically in recent years (and it will continue to change) but newspapers remain valuable. Earned media is immensely more valuable than advertising. Maximizing the impressions and impact of a news story, regardless of the medium, is how one changes behavior through PR. Are you discovering all your earned media through a comprehensive news tracking system? Including published media is simply “elementary” to measuring your PR impact.