Online news growing but papers far from dead

Online news growing but papers far from dead

Meeting with a legal firm this week about the possibility of running a PR campaign there was only one objective in the mind of the senior partner I met.

“We want to be in the local paper,” he said. “We want to be in there as much as possible – more than any of our competitors.”

Now I can hardly say I was too surprised with this goal. The legal industry is conservative and traditional. If it’s the local paper he wants then I’m sure we can do that.

However, in this sophisticated communications era the power of the local paper is diminishing and it is a message us Public Relations bods have to get across.

Further proof of this is highlighted in this week’s YouGov report, which shows 29 per cent of the 18-24 have not read a newspaper in the past year. Equally though only 45 per cent of the total population of the UK have read a newspaper online.

The full findings of this report will be presented at The Guardian’s Changing Media Summit this month and its findings have relevance beyond folks like me in media and will inevitably show further proof of declining numbers of those reading traditional newpapers.

The report is of great interest as it will highlight where companies should be targeting their messages and don’t be surprised to see more emphasis on the power Social Media.

Before you switch off and expect me to rave on about the power of Facebook, Twitter etc though I think some balance is needed.

I’m in my 40s and find that many of my friends still can’t be bothered with Social Media- they think it’s a young kids thing. To some degree they’re right, but it is certainly changing fairly rapidly with silver surfers galore and most Linked In users aged over 40.

That is why I believe when businesses are targeting messages they should not so much think about the platform, but the audience.

For widespread local exposure often you still can’t beat the local rag, despite its diminishing readership. However, it’s not the be all and end all, and sometimes more targeted campaigns are needed. For example if you want to speak to a certain kind of over 70s maybe a leaflet drop at a community centre would be of more use than perhaps an expensive ad feature in the local paper.

In an era where money is not as plentiful as before we need to be sharper about the best use of marketing spend, but embrace change.

The online era has seen websites and SEO rule the roost, but the death of traditional kinaesthetic print is certainly a long way away.

We have to engage with our audiences with interesting messages and content is still king whether online, on paper or on radio or TV, it doesn’t matter what you are saying unless someone thinks it’s worth listening.