PR should 're-evaluate print as a medium' as Brits skim-read online content

The PR industry should "re-evaluate print as a medium for promotion" because the public pays far greater attention to print journalism than online content, according to new academic research.

89 per cent of time spent reading national newspapers is in print format, says research
89 per cent of time spent reading national newspapers is in print format, says research

The study, by the professor Neil Thurman of the University of Munich and City University London, reveals that members of the British public read print versions of national newspapers for an average of 40 minutes per day, against 30 seconds per day online and via apps.

"Print has a lot of value for PR firms and their brands and should be re-evaluated as a medium because of the audience it attracts," Thurman told PRWeek.

"Although online editions have doubled or tripled the number of readers that national newspapers reach, this increased exposure disguises the huge differences in attention paid by print and online readers," he added.

He said this is because people have typically invested more money in a print newspaper and are therefore less likely to discard it.

According to the research, 89 per cent of time spent reading national newspapers is in print format, while seven per cent is on mobile and just four per cent is on a computer.

Last year, more than three out of four senior PR professionals featured in PRWeek's Global Power Book said print newspapers did have a future.

However, Thurman's study argues that "without radical change of some sort, the decline of newspapers will continue, with important social, cultural and political consequences".

"To stop newspaper brands' revenue (and the attention they receive) declining would probably take nothing less than state intervention, which is not going to happen," Thurman said.

Slowing that decline is a more realistic aim, he added.

"What this research shows is the print is unsurpassed as a platform for getting audiences to spend time with newspaper brands, and I don’t think that is going to change for quite some time."

The data was compiled between April 2015 and March 2016 and relies on data from the UK National Readership Survey for print, and comScore for online. 

News brands studied were The Mail, The Sun, The Telegraph, Mirror, The Times, The Guardian, Express, Star, Record, The Herald and The Scotsman.

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