The question came via Twitter from a thoughtful student: 'Why do PR professionals still prioritise print coverage over online?'
It's a good question. Assuming they do – and with the exception of a few social media specialists it probably is true – then there are several likely explanations:
- Print is tangible, and thus has a higher perceived value than online (or broadcast even)
- Practitioners do what they know best (and avoid the risky and the uncertain)
- Clients and bosses demand and expect it
I then asked myself a different question. Knowing what I now know, would I have practised differently back then in the bad old days before the web and social media rose to prominence?
I should have focused more on outcomes, not outputs (attendance at events, press coverage). But this would have meant turning away business. I recall the look I had from my consultancy managing director when, in a meeting with a potential new client, I asked 'what do you want press coverage for?'
I wish I'd focused more on finding the issue than promoting the product or service. Again, this would have meant turning down some easy hits in the media for a more sustainable strategy. We did try (and we knew we should), but sometimes the low hanging fruit was just too easy to pick…
What's interesting is to note how little has changed. These two should still be high on the wish list of current practitioners wanting to avoid obsolescence. Focus on the outcomes; and develop an issues-led approach. Otherwise what value are you adding, and what's to differentiate your advice from anyone else's?