Print is Prestige ó But
Does Online Outperform?
Sometimes volunteer writers think their article is considered less
valuable if itís published online instead of in the associationís print
publication. But here are some solid reasons why online articles get more
By Marsha Friedman
Thereís just something about
holding the printed word in your hands that continues to resonate with people.
It has actual texture. It has actual weight. It just seems more substantial, so
surely it must be. Hey, I understand. I'm something of an ink-on-paper kind of
person myself. I can't even imagine starting my day without my coffee in one
hand and newspaper in the other.
Because print has a tangible worth,
sometimes your associationís contributing authors donít want their article only
published online if itís not going to appear in print, too. However, our
reverence for print shouldn't color our attitudes about just how valuable
online articles can be.
Let me share a few reasons why online coverage has more heft than your
volunteer writers might realize:
- Staying power. An article on the printed page is
valuable today, but it's gone tomorrow. Most people toss magazines and
newspapers in the recycling bin. You can clip the article out and have it
framed, prominently displaying it in your office. And there's nothing
wrong with that. I do it, too, and there certainly is value to a
"wall of fame" that members see when they drop by. But that's a
online article, on the other hand, could still be floating around on the
Internet weeks, months, or even years later, easily accessible to anyone. Now,
granted, it probably won't be there forever. Itís a good idea to keep a screen
grab of any online article that you write or that features you or your members.
- Ease of sharing. When your members
are featured in or author an online article, sharing it with others is a
snap. They can email it with a link or put a link on their website, too.
Perhaps more importantly, both the association and the author can share
the article on social media. That not only promotes your organization and
the author, but also promotes your associationís online publication.
- Potential reach. The traditional
newspaper tossed on your driveway each morning or the magazine that
arrives in your mail is appealing, but these days, a large chunk of the
population goes online for news and information. Just look at a couple of
major newspapers and how their print circulation numbers compare to the
online reach. The venerable New York
Times has a daily print circulation of 2.2 million, but a whopping 63
million people visit the Times'
website each month. USA Today
has a daily print circulation of 3.2 million. That number pales in
comparison to the 26.2 million people who visit the newspaper's online
version each month. You can find similar numbers for many publications
across the country.
though association audiences may still be catching up in this respect, in most
publications, the online visitors almost always will outnumber those who read
the print alternative.
- The serendipity of online searches. In addition to
reaching people actively seeking out specific publications online, digital
articles could end up on the screens of people who are simply searching
for information on a particular topic ó and this leads them to your
- The sway of authority sites. If you're lucky
enough to be featured, along with your website, on what Google calls an
authority site, your website will get a big boost when people do Google
searches. Authority sites are the high-quality sites that Google trusts,
including many news websites. If you're quoted in USA Today, for example, and the article includes your website,
a backlink to the USA Today site
is created. That backlink provides incredible value to your SEO effort and
will influence your website's page ranking.
None of this is to belittle the power
of traditional print. But next time a volunteer writer grumbles about their article
appearing online and not in print, you can point out that online coverage is
Marsha Friedman is the founder of pay-for-performance public relations firm