While most PR agencies continue to position themselves as digital specialists, I find it increasingly interesting that in most conversations with successful online brands, there is a desire for greater levels of print media coverage.
Why is this? Why do switched on, online brands want print media coverage? Aren’t print circulations for the most part are continuing to fall and become less relevant? I think it would be too simple to agree to this statement but it is interesting to examine the reasons why those responsible for PR within online business continue to chase the ink.
In many cases this is because of a lack of understanding of the benefits of link building that PR agencies can deliver to improve natural search rankings. While this is less the case for pure play online businesses, there is often confusion about what a SEO agency versus a PR agency can deliver in terms of quality of links. Given the recent changes to Google and its ability to penalise brands for low quality links, Marketing Directors have been slow to understand the impact of these changes.
The old adage that CEO’s still like to see themselves and their companies in print is still surprisingly the case. This is perhaps a generational issue and even with high calibre media organisations such as the Financial Times, an online article is often considered an inferior piece of editorial coverage compared to the print edition. I know many in house PR professionals that are torn between satisfying their CEO’s demands versus what is better for the marketing of the business.
While many online businesses make these decisions based on ignorance or confusion about the role and contribution of PR, many brands are keen for a more offline presence, simply because they are an online brand.
It has been interesting to see online brands such as eBay and Amazon, increasingly trying to find ways to engage with consumers’ offline via more experiential activity such as pop up shops and events. I feel that there is a desire for online brands to become truly embedded in our world and that the way to do that is to become part of our offline experience.
Those high street retailers that have succeeded in the last few years are those that have offered a multi-channel approach for their customers. Look at the success of John Lewis and the way in which they have made click and collect such a big success to integrate their on and offline businesses. This is a big threat to pure play online businesses but the good news for them is that John Lewis is a rare exception and many traditional high street brands have disappeared because they were too slow to implement a multi-channel approach.
Online businesses with great brand recognition have a wonderful opportunity to move in and occupy high streets around the UK with a true multi-channel approach. In the same way that high street brands could have done the same but failed to invest and change their business structure.A desire to be seen in print is perhaps simply reflective of an online brand’s ambition to become a greater part of our lives.
- by: Jim Hawker