Web Clips: Worth Far More Than Print Clips

There are plenty of people (both clients and PR folk) who relish having tangible clips from a print publication of their news/placements. Many still place more value on them than web clips.

Today, I would like to change your way of thinking about the value of a placement, and let you see why a web clip is worth far more than a print clip.

First, of all, obviously not all placements are created equal (in web or print). I’d of course rather have a placement in the print edition of the Wall Street Journal than a random blogger’s site with 10 subscribers. But when initial circulation numbers and source credibility are closer, the web clip will always be much more valuable.

Let’s go look at a few reasons:

Print news dies quickly, isn’t even really “news” anymore by the time it prints
In an age where news happens instantly via social media and people on Twitter are breaking stories hours before main stream media, print newspapers don’t run “news” anymore. It’s not really news if it takes time to print and be distributed physically the next day when those of us who are plugged in get it instantly via RSS. Print news takes time to create / distribute and has finite shelf life. Online news is instant and lasts forever

Edge: Web

Google, search and long tail potential of your news
While a print story might feel important in-the-moment and on people’s minds for one day, a web clip remains up there indefinitely – minus a few newspaper websites who take down or change link structures (I won’t go off on a rant, but any newspaper that changes links or removes stories doesn’t understand the way the web works and is stuck in the old way of thinking).

People not only read the story when it shows up in their RSS reader for that publication or when they visit the site, but they might find it via a Google search at any point. All of those little hits from Google add up to an amount that is even more than the initial burst of traffic and interest to your story.

That positive story about your organization can continue to be a boost for you for years down the road. Sure the print publication behind glass looks great on your office wall, but the same story on a popular blog might be revisited for years, right where your customers are looking.

Edge: Web

Sharing / social media and bloggers
Stories on the web (that are compelling) are passed around by Digg users, shared on Facebook and written up / linked to in the blogosphere. It’s so easy to share a story using the web – even my parents know how to do it. Distance and time become meaningless when you can just link a story when you see it and want to share it. And you can easily share something with your entire address book with just a few clips.

It’s far more difficult to share a story you’re reading in a non-digital format, in fact the only way this is usually done is by word of mouth – far more inefficient than sharing something with a million people at once via Digg.

Edge: Web

Print newspapers are cumbersome, have irrelevant ads
Print newspapers are a pain to read – they are large, cumbersome and littered with advertisements that are intrusive and obnoxious. Web ads are actually contextual, in other words: they match the content you’re actually reading. So I might even click on one and find a product I’m actually interested in instead of another useless (and wasteful) insert. Advertisers win, I win and the publication wins. And, it’s all trackable – hardly the case with print media.

Also, you can get ink on your hands with a print newspaper easily. Content through RSS on my iPhone or laptop is even more portable, useful and easier to share.

Edge: Web

Magazine style content
I do enjoy the monthly print magazines, especially for niche subjects. But, on a niche blog the pictures look just as nice, and while it might not be as easy to thumb through, you can have some intricate discussion, interacting and rating of that kind of content online. Plus webzines are greener than wasting all that ink and thick paper for your stories and cost much less to produce.

Edge: Web

Online newsrooms have infinite space
Wherein a print newspaper or glossy only has X amount of pages, digital content sites have essentially infinite space to fill. This is a boon for PR people. If you’re creative in coming up with ways to share your content (or get something written about), there is no limit to how many sources will write your story. Print newsrooms are shrinking while web publications are growing.

Edge: Web

It is inefficient and dated to receive, share, and consume news through physical mediums.  Look at what is happening in the music industry with CD’s turning into mp3s – only the music industry is fighting their own customers because they are so afraid of change. Apple has embraced digital music and has come up the new winner in this market.  You can learn much from this parallel example of a physical medium being replaced by a far more efficient digital medium.  People just buy the one song they want instead of the album.  Now people will read just the one article they want instead of the whole newspaper.

Bloggers and online content providers are becoming the source for news and information on the web, and they are coming out as winners. Its obvious when you look at the fact that traffic of the top bloggers is way ahead of the circulations of most print newspapers. Does anyone here think the yellow pages are actually still relevant in any way? Seriously? I hope not. The daily print newspaper is no different.

The future is bleak for your print newspaper and that physical monthly magazine you may be used to. But the future is really bright when you start to see the way content is being presented, shared and given new life on the web. Those who have embraced it have seen the sheer power and usefulness, and essentially the future of how everyone will share information and news.