Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Fate of Newspapers

For hundreds of years, newspapers have traditionally been a favorite medium for getting out important public information, advertising or news about local business. So we never take it lightly here at New Harbor Group when a paper folds or makes major cutbacks. Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more of that these days.

For example:

- The Providence Journal recently announced its employees can expect 74 layoffs.

- Next door in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant said it will be letting go approximately 100 employees.

- On the other side of the country, The Rocky Mountain News just closed, much to the distress of many regular readers. And that is surely an indicator of what’s to come.

(Combined age of these newspapers? 575 years. Lesson? Adapt, or else.)

From Philadelphia to San Francisco, presses across the country are in danger of grinding to a halt, forcing PR companies like us to reassess how to adapt to the changing news media landscape.

While we’ll always have a soft spot for print, and will continue to give newspapers a chance as long as they stick around, we are telling all our clients that they have no other choice but to join us in exploring other mediums.

Internet. Online video. Blogs. Social networking. Virtual news feeds. Mobile devices. These are not going away, and are probably only in their infancy in terms of potential for reaching audiences and disseminating information to the public quickly and effectively.

If anything, the downfall of newspapers has shown us the not-so-surprising destiny of any industry that’s not willing to take chances and embrace new technology. The Rocky Mountain News was an outstanding news product with many loyal readers in its community and beyond, but something about its culture or business model resisted the changes required to adapt to new readership habits and refused to meet the needs and the wants of the customer.

Sure, some newspapers have been trying to establish a reputable online presence, and many have succeeded quite well. But is it too little, too late? And how does a newspaper make money on-line? Whatever the answer, we‘re watching and learning from the struggles of the news business, and are poised to pass them on to our clients .

We are committed to perfecting new tools and communicate to the public in a way that works best for our clients. More and more, that means stressing to our clients the vital importance of reaching their audience with the most cutting-edge techniques.

Will your ad go further on page D-12 of the local paper, or on the Facebook pages of everyone who lives in the target community? Do you want to print your news release … or Twitter it? Maybe both.

Posted by David Preston

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