A recent article in our local paper discussed the growing unpopularity of print newspapers and included these facts:
An entire generation is growing up that rarely reads a daily newspaper. This generation will soon be transitioning to corporate America and eventually assume management roles and be making purchasing decisions - including buying HR products and services. We are already seeing research that shows people often start with the Internet when researching products/services they may purchase. And while much of the research on purchasing behavior is limited to consumer goods, parallels can be drawn to the B2B world of how human resource professionals make their purchasing decisions (see Buying Behavior for some upcoming research by HRmarketer on this subject).
- In 2000, among 18 –to 29-year-olds, only 16 percent read a newspaper everyday.
- Between 1972 and 1998, the percentage of people between the ages of 30 and 40 who read a newspaper everyday dropped from 73 percent to 30 percent.
- Newspaper reading habits are fairly well established by a reader’s early twenties, and don’t change much with age. Daily newspaper circulation has been in a slow decline since about 1970, but readership by the current 18- to 24-year-old age group has been plummeting.
- Less than 50 percent of the adult population will read a newspaper "regularly" by 2010.
- 2005 was very bad for the newspaper industry as shown by the double-digit decline in the circulation of several newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, declining stock prices of newspaper companies on Wall Street, and slashes in newsroom staff.
Our own HRmarketer researchers have noticed a decline in readership of many HR trade publications. We've seen circulation of many print publications decrease from last year to this year, sometimes dramatically. One HR trade journal, for instance, went from 25,000 to 12,000 subscribers in the span of a few years. All the major daily U.S. papers have dropped in circulation, as well. We’ve also noticed that print publications are tending to keep the same ad rates as last year or even reduce their rates.
We know one thing for certain. Increasing numbers of "consumers", from digital cameras to recruiting software, start their buying process online. Therefore, it is crucial that sellers have and maintain a visible presence online. And having a great web site is no longer enough. Your web site must be search engine optimized and have scores of other web sites and online media outlets linking to your web site or referencing your company. And making sure this happens along with generating sales leads is the responsibility of the marketing department and what they should be spending the majority of their time doing.
If I gave you a choice of (a) having your company mentioned in an article within a major print HR trade magazine or major daily newspaper or (b) consistently guaranteeing you a first-page search results ranking on Google for keywords relevant to your product which would you choose? You may get a few leads from choice "a" but you will get a lot more leads from choice "b". And, choice "b" does not get thrown away after it is read, it continues to circulate indefinitely. A media placement in a print publication, much like a print advertisement, is a onetime snapshot in front of an audience that may or may not see it, remember it, be interested in it or in the active buying stage of the purchasing process. Compare this to the visibility you get from being on the first-page search results of an active, interested audience that specifically searched for products that your company sells - day after day after day. Yet, marketing departments will pay a retainer PR firm $5,000 or more per month to get their name "in print" and spend next to nothing on SEO or other "marketing" PR tactics (check out some of our lead-generating tips).
Now, don't get us wrong, there is value in print media placements but a disproportionate amount of time and money is spent on securing these placements at the expense of an equally or more important metric of online visibility. And getting and maintaining high online visibility can be accomplished by following a few basic principles of what we like to call "Marketing PR". For a primer on Marketing PR, download our latest free report.