Electronic Media vs Print Media

Print media maybe in decline, however, is targeting an international market the way for quality journals to succeed?  I found the following article by Roy Greenslade in the on-line Guardian fascinating: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/27/andrew-rashbass-economist-group-interview.  The article is based on an interview with Andrew Rashbass chief executive of The Economist Group.

It seems that the print version of The Economist just grows and grows.  Rashbass puts this down to the fact that the publication is in English – the default business language.  Consequently if you are in business and want an informed international view of what is happening in the world of business then you will turn to The Economist.  The numbers are impressive, 1.4 million weekly global sales with 844,000 of these in the USA.  Give people quality – sound research, meaningful analysis and insightful comment and they will want to read it.

Before launching the web version of The Economist they commissioned market research into how people consume print and e-media.   It seems that print readers are committed to a good read – to use Rashbass’s metaphor they are set for a gourmet meal.  Web browsers on the other hand are snackers and are looking for a lighter and more interactive experience – hence the different treatment between the print and web versions of The Economist.

E-readers have changed things yet again.   The Economist app is available for Kindle, iPhone and iPad, providing a screen replica of the print edition as well as an interesting audio option.  Recognition that the e-readers are more like their print reading cousins.  Rashbass observes that as more people become e-reader users this will eventually cannibalise print sales, but for the moment, this is a new audience with a different demographic.   Overall his view is that new media are additive and will in the end only increase Economist readership – good news for him and all media.

So what’s the upshot for PR?   Well I think it is a useful and healthy signpost of where we are going.  It says that there is a serious media consuming public who want good journalism and are prepared to pay for it.  It says that content is more important than the medium – but that different media have different modes-of-use and need appropriate writing.  It also suggests that magazines with UK only focus for their print circulation could be missing an opportunity to expand into overseas markets where English is commonly spoken.

Kevin Ainsworth, Partner, Ainsworth Maguire Public Relations

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