SBJ/June 20-26, 2011/Opinion

Traditional media still has role in marketing

If you are reading this article, you still obtain at least some of your news from traditional media outlets. You are going against the predictions of the experts who thought that traditional media would be eclipsed by digital media by now. True, the proliferation of digital media is going strong, but humans don’t change that quickly. Just ask Red Bull, which launched The Red Bulletin in May.

That’s why it’s still important to allocate dollars to both traditional print and electronic media outlets in a marketing campaign. Sports fans of all ages still enjoy reading and viewing photos in Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, USA Today and The New York Times, to name a few. And TV and radio still have a unique ability to draw an audience, especially when it comes to major sporting events. Face it, you and your friends don’t gather around the computer to watch the Super Bowl.

Newspapers: Two years ago, there were 1,400 dailies. Since then, around 12 of those dailies have become defunct (most notably the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer). Some of the larger dailies, such as The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald, were in trouble, but they have since rebounded. Today, more than 110 million people read Sunday newspapers and, according to the Newspaper Association of America, $27 billion was spent on newspaper advertising (print and online) last year alone, even as Craigslist and eBay eviscerated classified advertising sections. Print continues to reach a mass market, and ads continue to make a strong statement. Newspapers remain a cogent way to relay a targeted message, especially now that they are supported by the paper’s social media outlets. It is still in-depth and compelling reporting that drives a majority of the news disseminated on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, according to recent studies, the URL-shortening service bit.ly generates approximately 400 million referrals of news and information on a monthly basis, and newspapers remain the original source for a majority of this content.

Magazines: According to the Association of Magazine Media, magazine subscriptions and sales on newsstands are up. In 2000, there were 17,815 magazines in circulation. In 2010, 20,707 were counted. This proves that magazines are a powerful and a viable medium.

Local TV: In 2010, according to the Pew Research Center, revenue was up at all cable, local and network news stations. The Pew Research Center found that local TV is still more popular than online, as 50 percent of people get their information from their local TV newscasters.

Radio: In 2010, traditional radio saw a revenue increase of 6 percent. Chiefly, 93 percent of Americans listened to AM/FM radio at least once a week in 2010. However, HD radio continued to have a difficult time. After a rough start, satellite radio is finally gaining ground, as it saw a 12 percent growth in 2010.

At least two sports still require traditional media attention:

• Tennis: According to the Tennis Industry Association, 14 percent of the 28 million people who participated last year fell into the 40-year-old-plus category. Where do you think they read about a new type of racket or obtain the latest tennis techniques? You better believe these players still read magazines, newspapers and watch TV. A print campaign coupled with a robust online program could include technique webisodes to highlight product features, a Facebook fan page and Twitter integration, where a spokesperson can tweet tips.

• Golf: A recent National Golf Foundation study revealed that the 60- to 69-year-old age group has the highest participation. This demographic includes inveterate newspaper and magazine readers who also gain their news from local TV and from radio. Again, a traditional campaign needs a strong, creative online program as tech-savvy baby boomers age.

The bottom line for marketers: Although audiences are turning to digital platforms for their news, don’t eliminate traditional media outlets. You could use them as a fulcrum of your program. Promote and support your efforts on Twitter, Facebook, and on video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.

Wayne Catan (wcatan@coynepr.com) is a vice president at Coyne Public Relations where he leads the agency’s sports practice.
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