Explaining the Benefits of Online vs. Print Media: Show Me the Value!

Explaining the Benefits of Online vs. Print Media: Show Me the Value!

Posted by | November 06, 2012 | BLASTmedia, PR tips, Social Media | 8 Comments

As PR professionals, we have all been in meetings with clients, both new and old, where the first outlets they describe as their “home runs” are print publications like Good Housekeeping or the New York Times. While these magazines and newspapers remain a crucial part of any PR strategy and campaign, they are steadily being eclipsed by their online counterparts and new Internet-only media.

A few weeks ago, Newsweek became the latest magazine to announce it would cease publication of the Newsweek print edition in favor of a digital-only format at the end of this year. And this isn’t the first announcement of this kind for 2012 – SmartMoney Magazine ceased 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. We are likely to see this trend 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.

For us here on the BLASTmedia PR team, we are already executing an integrated approach to public relations, but how do we and our fellow PR pros communicate this ever-changing landscape and its importance to our clients? We compiled 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, like a product feature on an online site, can now be used to help shape and create owned media, such as 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.
  • Tracking tactics. 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. Here, you can see which PR hits drove the most people to your client’s website, how long they were there, what pages they looked at, and more. This level of information can provide insight to clients on what is and isn’t working for media outreach, help provide some ROI 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 then 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 a little over two million, while the online-only version has over 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, forever searchable to those who might have read or heard about it elsewhere. Websites also 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.
  • SEO-tastic. 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 takes out that middle man, placing hyperlinks directly to a client’s home page, product page, or blog right in the body of the article. With the simple click of a button, readers can be exposed to the latest news and offerings by your clients. In addition to this easy exposure, every one of these links leading back to your website is great for your SEO, and as more original articles with links to your website appear on popular, well-respected websites, your SEO value will only increase.
  • 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 their product or service that much more attractive to potential consumers.
  • Constant content. 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 allows 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.

Looking for an integrated PR campaign that combines traditional and new media outreach, along with a strategic social media plan? Email Mendy Werne to discuss how BLASTmedia can help you!

(Image created on ICanHas.Cheeseburger.com; original image via Hark.com.)

Alyshia Kisor-Madlem

About Alyshia Kisor-Madlem

Alyshia is the Vice President at BLASTmedia where she uses her digital marketing expertise to provide results for both B2B and B2C brands.


  • bradlyc37 says:

    Print media has definitely taken a backs seat to online media and social marketing.

  • […] upon an interesting blog post that describes this issue to a T (be sure to check it out right here). The article discusses that magazines like Newsweek and and SmartMoney Magazine have opted to […]

  • Great points and the reasons why we are an online magazine for families. Our target audience are parents, which 85% of parents are now online. It’s the way to go!

  • Mrioll Chwen says:

    Print media is the most valuable part of media and magazine world. It’s very good when print media and social media working together to promote business or brands. Social media is the best way to capture a targeted audience for online business.

    • Alyshia Kisor-Madlem Alyshia Kisor-Madlem says:

      Mrioll – thanks for your feedback! Do you feel there is value in online media who feature a product in an article (and link back to that product’s website)?

  • Josh Russell says:

    There is only one form of print media that I, personally, prefer to their online counterparts, and that is books. No matter how updated technology gets, nothing beats owning, holding, feeling and reading a real book, turning real paper pages to read a physical novel is how many people relax at night. I, personally (although I respect opposing views), prefer online news, advertising and other media forms (e.g., forums), simply for the time saving (and money saving) convenience. However I hope to God that real printed novels are never phased out completely. As an author myself I know that “e-books” end up earning us more money, as we do not have to go through publishers, book stores and other hoops that printed media makes us jump through, however I am also an avid reader, and dearly love the feel of a nice paperback in one hand and a cuppa in the other, as I’m sure, despite the growing popularity of online media, so many people still do.

    • Alyshia Kisor-Madlem Alyshia Kisor-Madlem says:

      I can definitely agree Josh! Do you feel the same way about magazines (as in liking to read the physical version vs. an online version) or is it exclusively books?

  • Isabella says:

    I agree that an integrated print and digital marketing campaign is the way forward. Make them work together and compliment each other, rather than forsaking one for the other. Good print marketing can provide legitimacy in the eyes of your customers, plus you must remember that there are still a lot of people who don’t regularly go online. Don’t limit your audience by choosing either print or digital.

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