Online News Hits are Better Than The Print Versions

In case you missed it yesterday, a top 75 U.S. newspaper offered its ENTIRE newsroom voluntary buyouts – all 320 reporters, editors, copy editors, etc. According to the paper, one of the major reasons it’s in a slump is because advertisers are pulling dollars from print newspapers and opting for online sites, including online news sites.

Is this more evidence that news outlets’ Online versions have become more important than their print counterparts?

When I started in this business, clients LOVED print news stories on their brands. Many seemed to prefer them over great TV news hits. I suspected it had something to do with being able to physically pick up a newspaper or magazine, proudly wave it around for the entire marketing department to see and then leave it along with a Post-It note in the CEO’s inbox.

Since those days, the shift in emphasis to Online newsrooms by media outlets has surged, but many clients still seem to see it as second-rate to the print version. It’s not. In fact, I think that in most cases it’s a better hit for the client. Here’s why:

  • Advertisers go where the crowds are. The reason many are shifting more dollars in to online advertising is because many news outlets’ Web sites now have more unique visitors than they have in circulation for their respective print versions. That means more people potentially see the great feature article on your brand.
  • It’s easier for readers to share online news stories about your brand with their colleagues, family and friends. Think about the time it takes to make copies of a print article and walk it to everyone in your department or to scan it in seven times to get the contrast right so you can email it. Now think about how easy it is to copy and paste a URL into an email or Digg a story.
  • The online versions don’t have the same space issues as their print counterparts. That means there’s a better chance of the article on your brand NOT being left on the editing room floor due to space constraints.
  • News organizations are focusing a lot of their attention on building and growing their online versions. They need to fill it with great editorial content to attract readers so they can attract advertisers. That’s how they make money. Since they’re looking for great content – and lots of it – it provides more opportunities for your brand’s stories to be told.

What reasons would you add? Why should we be just as happy – if not more happy – with an online hit as we are with print versions?

*Image by Alosh Bennett.

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11 responses to “Online News Hits are Better Than The Print Versions

  1. A lot of it depends on the business you’re in. For my business — network automation software — online hits are good (although online news hits can get deeply buried and hard to find). But for a company with a less tech-savvy target market — or something like publishing or music where targeted groups may have a pro-deadtree bias — print will likely still be the winner.

  2. Good point. Didn’t think about some people having a pro-deadtree bias. 🙂

    There are always exceptions. I agree that a less tech-savvy audience would keep print, radio and TV hits as the home runs.

    Thanks for sharing good insights.

  3. I’d say it also might have something to do with “permanence”. I’m sure there’s a better word for it, but it’s like this, if you get a story written about your business online it’s, in most cases, going to be readily available for quite a while. If it’s on TV or in print it may be archived somewhere, but in most cases that won’t be quite as easy to get to.

  4. @Scott – YES! Great point. Can’t believe I overlooked that. The online stories also can show up in Google searches on your company, add to your brands SEO, etc.


  5. And if you’re selling something online (say a book) and the story (say a book review) provides a link to said item, that’s like *ding* instant money, whereas a print item means someone has to go to the store and buy.

  6. I agree, as do most consumers, that online hits are better than print.

    However, most people in our industry still prefer print — a study by U.K.-based Parker Wayne & Kent ( confirmed this despite earlier studies that indicate consumer preference to be quite the opposite.

    The durability aspect is something that is often noted, but print really isn’t any more durable — in fact, it’s tangible qualities make it less durable since it can easily be lost, damaged or destroyed.

    The real reasons I think online coverage is yet to get its due respect have to do with old measurements of ROI. Even many mainstream news outlets have yet to post really clear numbers of unique visitors to the site, let alone an individual page.

    I think once online coverage can be satisfactorily measured and people get over the tangible aspects of seeing something about their company in print, then online coverage will become the new standard.

  7. David, I agree with you that online hits are great for our clients but I can’t say they are *better* than print… yet. A solid placement in a top notch magazine is still many of my clients’ dearest wish. That said, I do dream of a day when clip reports will be done via Delicious and there will be an end to hours spent on fist-thick binders stuffed with clips just so clients can hear that satisfying “thud” when it hits their desk.

  8. Nice piece, David. I’ve been in PR for about 30 years, and clients have always liked the tangible placement. It was great for reprints, which allowed you to merchandise your media coverage. A good placement in a magazine is still hard to beat from a prestige point of view, but I’d agree the online placement is better from a business perspective.

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