OPINION: Print still paramount for communication

Despite the inexorable march of the internet, two recent reports seem to provide clear evidence that old media (principally print) still exert a compelling hold over consumers.

Monk: 'rich pickings'
Monk: 'rich pickings'

First, independent research by Opinion Matters showed that 20 million magazines are sold in the UK every week, with three-quarters of consumers classifying themselves as regular purchasers. Second, ZenithOptimedia upgraded its projections for growth in ad spending across traditional media in the coming year.

Add to this the 11 million national newspapers and million-plus regional newspapers bought every day in the UK and there is a simple message for communicators: print is paramount in getting across the right messages. Individual communicators will make up their own minds about how much weight to give the additional 1.7 million copies of free newspapers distributed daily in London, and whether a product pushed into the hand rather than actively purchased is likely to exert an equal influence over its recipients.

I have long suspected that reports of the imminent death of paid-for print circulations have been exaggerated. Circulations may be nudging downwards, but they remain vast. No nation in the world consumes print media like the UK. The influence of a print headline is huge, and now that newspaper and magazine groups are amplifying their content online without destroying their commercial values, today it is increasing exponentially.

Newspaper brands are setting out their wares to the world on the web. Their stories are reaching previously unachievable global audiences, millions of whom continue to purchase. The PRO who achieves his plug or gets his client’s attitude across in a printed piece of comment suddenly plays to an expanded audience.

Another current illustration of the renewed primacy of print is the wealth of TV ‘newspaper round-ups’ featuring double acts of journalists and commentators, all eagerly dissecting the day’s newspapers. The smart PRO is already cultivating the newspaper reviewers to lobby for his or her newspaper angle or story to be replicated on TV.

Newspaper and magazine online offerings also provide rich pickings for the communicator. The
publicity story that includes good still pictures translates straight from newspaper or magazine
to website, catching a whole new demographic.

The online versions of The Sun, Mail and Telegraph  offer limitless scope for a carefully crafted PR story.

The media landscape is changing, but the power of print is reinvigorated. The pen and the headline are mightier than the blog and the viral.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and was formerly a senior newspaper executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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