Fresh eyes

Don’t underestimate traditional media relations

dont underestimate traditional media relations
Ben Hewes Head of Video; PR & Comms Manager

Written by Ben Hewes,
Content Marketing & Video Production Manager at Freshfield

It might seem the wrong time to be talking up traditional forms of media at a time when two newspapers have gone into administration.

As I write, the publisher of the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport, Sport Media Group, had ceased trading and a buyer was apparently being sought.

Furthermore, ABC figures are down, readers are supposedly migrating in hoards to online portals and social media channels.

But as a PR practitioner and, in particular one with a background in newspapers, traditional media outlets should remain high priority when planning campaigns.

Social media became part of a marketer’s toolkit some time ago, and campaigns designed to reach a specific targeted audience, for example, an age group or professional sector, have a far larger arsenal than just a few years ago thanks to changing technology. Quite rightly for an industry built around communicating, use of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook has become industry standard.

However, in my opinion, you cannot ignore the power of the press and traditional media relations. Look at The Sun – currently the UK’s most widely read newspaper with an estimated daily readership of 7.7 million in the 12-months to December 2010. (National Readership Survey)

Pizza Express’ recent campaign to highlight its 45th birthday saw its marketing team strike lucky with activity that hit every UK national newspaper and the BBC. As a result, footfall to Pizza Express increased by 75 per cent, evening sales by 20 per cent, and overall sales by 15 per cent. Compared to this, the news that the company’s Facebook page generated more than 38,000 fans and Twitter feed just over 3,000 seems largely irrelevant.

One thing that has become clear is that social media can provide a great route to national newspaper coverage, again supporting the use of multiple channels in PR campaigns.

In a great example of social media working hand-in-hand with traditional media, a T-Mobile campaign recently featured a massive pink sofa sited in Covent Garden. Customers were invited to sit on it via Facebook and Twitter, and audition for an ad campaign. The sofa was a PR dream come true, but the social media aspect was there to help generate the final result – 103 pieces of coverage including a number of national newspapers.

So, although there is no escaping the fact that newspaper circulations are falling – the Independent dropped 21 per cent of its readers (National Readership Survey) during 2010, and The Observer 20 per cent – their importance still cannot be ignored.

Currently social media is a great addition to our armoury, working hand-in-hand with the traditional communications tools, but it will not replace the prestige and readership figures that come from the press. They are there to complement each other.

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