Has the Internet and Social Media Killed Print Media?
OKAY, now even I can admit that’s a bold and loaded question. And quite frankly, you’ll find positions falling on both sides of the fence.
Where do I stand?
Well, I would say that no, print media is definitely not dead.
However, I would follow that by also stating that its impact and reach has changed. There is no denying that our world is quickly turning more and more digital. Magazines are headed online, bloggers pioneered an entirely new category, and the days of sole print-focused empires are nearly extinct.
While The New York Times, for example, still produces physical newspapers, they’ve also fully developed a comprehensive online platform. The LA Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, etc., etc., etc.– all in the same boat. Now, why do these globally recognized outlets still bother with good ol’ ink and paper?
- In 2018, more than 6 in 10 people (62.8%) reported actively reading print magazines. (Thus, people are still buying hard copies folks!)
- That being said…this same report also revealed, “…strong discrepancies in print magazine readership by age, with adults ages 65 and older about twice as likely as those ages 18-24 to report having read a print magazine in the past week (73% and 36%, respectively).”
- According to an article published on NYTimes.com, in 2018 a Florida newspapers weekday print circulation was up 169 percent since 2003. Why? Because they primarily serviced retirees (aka 65+.)
- All that being said…”The estimated total U.S. daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) in 2018 was 28.6 million for weekday and 30.8 million for Sunday, down 8% and 9%, respectively, from the previous year.”
So, “is print media dead?” As of today? No. Does it have equal reach and impact across every age group and demographic? Arguably, no.
So, why does any of this matter?
Marketers and business owners tend to want stats, facts, and forecasts to guide their marketing and public relations strategies. Therefore, if we turn to the study above, should businesses with younger target audiences decide to only focus on digital strategies?
Not necessarily. Stick with me here…
Today’s top marketers and publicists are implementing an integrated multi-platform approach. Why? The typical consensus is that the more targeted impressions, touch points, and overall awareness a brand can obtain (regardless of platform), the better. AKA…assuming it’s positive and reaching your intended audience, why not take whatever third party mentions you can get (both print and digital)!
My wedding was recently featured in Oregon Bride Magazine and it reminded me of a perfect example of this concept.
When I was engaged, I hit up all the stereotypical wedding platforms for inspiration; you know, Pinterest, Blogs, Instagram, etc. My mother, on the other hand, went straight to Barnes and Noble and pretty much cleared out their bridal magazine section. It was through one of magazines that I learned of the designer Stella York. From the print, I turned to social media to further investigate; primarily I searched for features showcasing REAL brides. Flash forward to Sept. 1, 2018, and I walked down the isle in my very own Stella York. The point I’m making here is that it took multiple touches, on multiple platforms, to truly get me to buy in.
So, should you target print or online media outlets?
As an entrepreneur, I encourage you to not limit your outreach to a single medium off the bat. Instead, focus on shaping your strategy around reaching your unique audience, wherever they may be!
Hoping to drive sales to an online boutique? Learn all of the places your target audience is hanging out – both online and off.
Do you own a local hair salon where your primary goal is to get new customers in the door? I encourage you to investigate what sources your ideal clients trust. Is it online Yelp reviews, personal friends, a community magazine, or all three?
Let’s take it home.
Is print media dead? No.
Is print media readership declining? Statistically (for most), yes.
Should you integrate print media into your public relations strategy? It depends.
What does it depend on? Your target audience, your business, and your overall goals.