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PR professionals still prefer print despite falling sales

PR professionals still prefer print despite falling sales

Most PR professionals still favour offline media coverage despite recent consumer research identifying the Internet as the more influential medium.

That’s according to a study from public relations company Parker, Wayne and Kent.

It found that more than half (52.9 per cent) of PR professionals believe that offline media coverage is more valuable than online media coverage, while nearly two-thirds (63.8 per cent) of PR professionals believe their stakeholders refer to print coverage more than online, television or radio.
More than half (52.9 per cent) of PR professionals were found to believe that their stakeholders are more influenced by print coverage than television, online or radio.
Additionally more than one in 10 (11.7 per cent) PR professionals believe offline coverage is becoming less relevant to PR campaigns.

Parker, Wayne & Kent’s results seem to conflict with a recent report by PR company Fleishman-Hillard which claimed that the Internet is eight times as influential as traditional print media and twice as influential as television.

Similarly, a study from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that consumers engage more with brands via online advertising. In the IAB research, 40 per cent of brand engagement occurred through the Internet while only 31 per cent came from print and 19 per cent from television.

Another report from Simmons of Experian Research Services published in January 2008 found that people engage with content more online than when the same content is delivered offline via traditional television, radio or print.

There was a 25 per cent increase in audience engagement when television shows were experienced online. The same survey indicated that audiences are 15 per cent more engaged in online magazine articles compared to their print equivalent.

“The perspective of most PR professionals seems to differ greatly from research analysing the media consumer’s experience of online and offline content,” said a spokesperson from Parker, Wayne and Kent.

“We found that most PR professionals rank print, television, then online in terms of influence, while Fleishman-Hillard’s consumer research ranks online first, then television, then print. It’s also strange that so few PR professionals perceive radio media coverage as influential.”

The PR professionals surveyed don’t just believe their stakeholders are more influenced by print, but nearly two-thirds of them said they believe print coverage is referred to more than any other medium by their stakeholders despite well-published statistics about the decline in newspaper readership.

According to the National Readership Survey, newspaper readership has fallen by 24 per cent among the UK’s top ten national newspapers over the last decade.

Conversely, Internet research company Nielsen//NetRatings reported that the UK’s four leading national newspapers have experienced a 30 per cent growth in online visitors.

The spokesperson added, “PR professionals cited the ability for online media coverage to be found via search engines (20 per cent) and that coverage can be achieved faster (13 per cent) as the most valuable qualities of online media coverage.

“Yet these benefits were not able to stand up to the benefits PR professionals prefer from offline coverage. Nearly 30 per cent said they believe offline media coverage is more trusted by customers with another 23 per cent deeming offline coverage more ‘real’ than online coverage.”

However, Parker, Wayne & Kent found that more than 1 in 10 PR professionals believe offline coverage is becoming less relevant to PR campaigns.

They warned, “PR professionals must stop thinking about the Internet as just web pages of text. Online media coverage is TV, radio and print.”

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