No Papers, Wk 4: A Reason To Pull The Trigger?

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On the 1st of January 2010, I decided to give up newspapers for 12 months to see what impact it would have on me as a person, but also as a PR consultant.

I’ve already learnt a lot in the first month, ranging from how difficult it is to avoid newspapers in a city like London to (very surprisingly) how much I miss print advertising.

This week, with a very heavy heart, I look at a pretty compelling reason for newspapers to be made extinct…and please excuse the over-dramatic tone…it’s part of my DNA…

A reason to pull the trigger on Newspapers?

I think most PR Pros will forgive me for using this classic image of Robert De Niro to illustrate how frustrating one element of our remit can be: measurement and evaluation.

The ‘Daddy’ of pain comes in the form of calculating a Return On Investment (ROI) on national / regional campaigns.

We’ve all been there. Run a flawless campaign. Achieved ‘hits’ in every local publication possible and then two months later we get a report back saying that it ‘did not’ meet the coverage expectations set.

(Cue the De Niro image)

Why?

Because, even after all these years, we still haven’t found a flawless solution that ensures every single piece of regional print coverage can be monitored for / collected – in fact, many national pieces slip under the radar too, which is the PR equivalent of torture.

Digit-all?

So, last week, when I sat in on a presentation from an online monitoring company, I had a scary thought: when it comes to evaluation, we might actually be better off if newspapers didn’t exist.

This was brought to life via a case study of a recent campaign which tracked sentiment and buzz against activity.

The beautiful thing was, I knew the results were robust because nothing could slip through the net…as all the data was available, and searchable…on the net.

(Note: An only digital experience could also be a PRs worse nightmare…very hard to say ‘the figure is lower because me missed some local / regional pieces’ – although we’d probably still try…)

Questions, so many questions…

But, is an ‘all digital’ landscape what the industry needs?

Do we need to be able to categorically collate and evaluate every single piece of ‘coverage’ we achieve in order to be an easier ‘buy’?

Could a life minus newspapers ensure we know exactly what impact our activity is having?

Could we finally provide an accurate answer to the ‘what value does PR deliver’ question?

Take the sentiment out of the equation and the argument for a ‘newspaper-less’ existence in relation to this issue is pretty compelling…sadly…

AV

Note: The next installment in this series will look at how painful it is not to enjoy newspapers while on holidays…perhaps the cruelest experience thus far…

2 Comments

  • Reply February 1, 2010

    Emily Cagle

    Love that you’re able to generate so many angles on interest from such a simple initiative…

    Clipping and measurement is indeed a joy and nightmare in equal measure, but print media doesn’t need to disappear in order for things to get easier.

    Really, it’s technology and rights issues surrounding clippings that aren’t currently up to scratch. I realise optical character recognition has a way to go, and it’s tough for agencies to get hold of every newspaper and every edition, and yes, I know that every publisher puts different limitations on electronic access, but there must be a way to make this work!

    Clippings agencies like Cision and Press Index (and indeed subscription tools like Lexis and Factiva) are expanding their reach and upping their game all the time, so I remain hopeful. One day, maybe, we might realise we haven’t heard “Our scanners didn’t pick it up” or “Sorry, that’s not on our reading list” in a long time. I just hope it isn’t because there aren’t any print publications to clip.

  • Reply February 3, 2010

    Jamie Garantziotis

    Ah Adam,

    The pain of holidays without newspapers must be incredible!

    Keep going mate- we’re with you all the way on this one…can’t wait for the next installment!

    Jamie

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