It’s a paradox that traditional media outlets have a fascination with the internet, even as the internet undermines their commercial existence. But the bit that always surprises me is the degree to which the traditional media have embraced the internet. Sure, you know that traditional media players have websites but...take the quiz:
Whose website does Alexa rank highest in the UK
BBC Online or Twitter
The Guardian or Wordpress
The Daily Telegraph or Myspace
The DailyMail or Bing
The Times or Gumtree
The Independent or Techcrunch
In each case the old media have it. But it doesn’t stop there. Yahoo, MSN and Bing all open onto news pages populated by stories from....the traditional media. This meant that of the 20 top websites in the UK, eight of them are either traditional media websites or websites which recycle the content of the traditional media onto their home pages – and that’s not including Google which doesn’t push news at you but aggregates vast amount of old media content – including articles about you.
It follows that if you were thinking of engaging in some viral PR for whatever it is you do, you might want to look at the traditional offline media as part of an online strategy. Unlike most blogs, the traditional media have comprehensive news gathering operations, intelligent jouralists and additional resources like photographers and camera teams to translate ideas into reality. In a delicious ‘three for one’ if you make the printed page, you get the online coverage and, because the websites of traditional media come loaded with content and links, search engine optimisation comes as standard.
In the world of the New Old Media, newspapers have become digital brands offering traditional brand values such as trust. Once you’ve got newspaper coverage of whatever it is you do, the URL is a PR tool – put it on your website, include it in funding proposals, add it to the footer on your email (for a while), Tweet it. Will your investors like it if the Guardian or the Telegraph think you are wonderful? This kind of external validation is old hat to cinema and theatres, but in a digital environment you don’t need to restrict yourself to one or two words, as (assuming the coverage is actually positive) you can allow your coverage to explain who you are and what you do. And, more subtly, if you are pushing a URL to prospective funders or customers, they are unlikely to be able to work what section or where on the page the original was located. So, a piece on the bottom half of a left hand page will, on the internet, look like....a piece.
if you want to get yourself out there in this shiny new digital age, certainly build a website, get SEO’d, get a blog, tweet, do all the social media things. But don’t let the current sexiness of the new media blind you to a fact that some of the biggest players in the new media are the old media, and they may well be happy to hear from you.
PS – A note on The Times.
As we countdown to Murdoch’s paywall , no-one in the industry can say for sure what’s going to happen - apart from a radical reduction to the Timesonline.co.uk traffic. Will the rest of the newspaper industry stand shoulder to shoulder with Murdoch – doesn’t look likely. So cheapskates and Scots who won’t pay will no doubt find their clicks on another traditional newsbrand’s shiny free website. If on the other hand the paywall model works and the rest of the UK media rush to charge, it will be a boon for bloggers and Twitterers – but where will they get their news from....? The answer is probably the BBC/STV/SKY – for ‘free’ (or at least no additional marginal cost, if you must) which is fine because, for the purposes of this piece, these count as old media and they’ve got a great big forward planning desk waiting for you.