The Rebirth of Print: How Digital Makes Traditional Tasty Again

Posted on March 29, 2010. Filed under: Measurement, Newspapers, Public Relations |

“Print is delicious.”

– Sarah Chubb, President of Conde Nast Digital

At the L2 (LuxuryLab) Organizing for Digital & Social Media last week at NYU’s Stern School of Business, executives and academics from prestigious organizations like Conde Nast, Coach, NYU and MIT offered insight into their digital successes, and the future opportunities and challenges in digital media. 

Perhaps it’s no surprise that comments about a resurgence in the value of print content stood out to a Dow Jones employee.  After all, The Wall Street Journal was for some time a curiosity among newspapers as it charged for online content.  However, this appears to be changing.  Hearst Corporation announced in early 2009 they would be mulling over charges for certain online properties, The New York Times announced it would start charging for its online edition in early 2011, and WSJ parent News Corporation continued this direction by announcing that it would start charging for access to online content for Britain’s The Times and The Sunday Times this June. 

Ms. Chubb made an interesting distinction in Conde Nast’s approach to digital.  While the company offers free access on web properties, from Epicurious.com to GQ.com, the company currently charges for certain digital versions of its print publications on mobile devices like the iPhone.  She predicts the availability of Apple’s iPad will further drive consumption of traditional print content through digital means.  Her prediction offers hope to publishers: these devices open up a new channel for consumers to get the content they want, advertisers to get the print real estate they need, and publishers to capture revenues they have watched decline in recent years.  After all, it’s not just the iPad on the horizon: The New York Times called the number of e-readers unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV, “a deluge.” 

What does this mean for PR and communications executives who want to measure what’s said about them in the news? For most of the new millennium, PR monitoring and measurement has moved online, as communicators have responded to a shift in media consumption online – and in some ways, benefited from inexpensive services that purport to monitor the web, virtually for free.  As e-readers prompt a shift back to traditional media consumption – albeit in a digital format – communications executives need to take notice.  For the enterprise communicator, that means seriously evaluating media monitoring and measurement tools to find those that allow employees and executives to monitor, review and share content through one portal – “the free web that’s good enough” may no longer be so.

And hey, I have to admit – that’s delicious, indeed.

Jennifer Hoffmann is Manager of Media Consulting at Dow Jones and is based in New York City.

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