Even in an expanding digital age, and a steady decline in advertising revenue, a recent study undertaken by the Pew Research Center, among others, concluded that about half of all regular newspaper readers consume their newspapers only in their printed versions. Other measurements show that about half of readers of their local daily paper did not access the paper online. Another study indicated 56 percent of readers reported that their only contact with a newspaper was in the print edition. Perhaps even more eye-opening, more than three-quarters of newspaper ad revenue comes from print.
In three metropolitan areas surveyed (Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa), print-only readers fit a consistent profile. They tend to be news enthusiasts who not only read the news in print, but also watch local TV news, as opposed to those getting their news from online editions. And, while millennials are perceived as tech-savy and not likely to pick up a newspaper, another Pew study from a few years ago found that nearly a quarter of 18-24 year-olds surveyed had read a newspaper in the past 24 hours.
For many readers, home distribution of the paper is still a key link between these publications and their readership. In the future, if printing of newspapers becomes economically unfeasible, then the impact would be felt by about half of their audience—a group that would be particularly vulnerable.
When it comes to the overall external marketing matrix, following are three print media strengths to consider when developing your next public relations strategy:
- In most cities, particularly in smaller communities, people read their hometown newspaper from front to back. Most weeklies operate without any direct local competition and are open to story ideas and publishing news releases.
- There is something about print that gives a sense of legitimacy. Most community/business leaders and decision makers look to newspapers as the most credible source of information. Newspaper editors provide a real check-and-balance on news stories that most bloggers don’t have.
- The digital world is extremely fragmented. While there are websites tailored to nearly every possible interest and demographic, these specialty online outlets aren’t always relevant to the broader public. On the other hand, newspapers span topics and interests, and include content relevant to the global community. In an industry that is continuously evolving, the one true constant has been the consistent presence and impact of print publications.