The Guardian has announced that it is the first UK newspaper site to attract more than 20 million unique users in a month – and it is not alone in reporting year-on-year growth as official figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic reveal.
The online offerings of the Telegraph, Times, Sun, Mirror, and the Independent each reported an increase in unique users – only the Mail saw its number of unique users fall – to just over 16 million – although its traffic was up year on year.
Of course, unique users is only one factor in determining the value of gaining media coverage, but any PR team or consultancy that can afford to ignore these figures is living in the last century. Much of the coverage online is generated in relation to the mainstream print edition of the title – but users online are seeking instant updates of news and opinion, which PR practitioners must recognise in their reactive and pro-active contact with journalists.
But let’s not forget the advantages of traditional media in our enthusiasm for the online opportunity of reaching millions of readers. Many feature articles work better when someone can take the time to read them slowly over a cup of coffee or when commuting.
Reading isn’t just about how quickly you can absorb facts and news, but about absorbing the content, reflecting on its relevance to you and fitting it cognitively with other information you’ve stored away.
Everyone in PR should know that quick reactions are required when called by media working to deadlines – this Fast PR is even more important in ensuring online media audiences get their fix of Fast News.
But we also need good old fashioned Slow PR skills in building relationships, identifying possible feature articles, developing individual angles and stories, thinking outside our traditional media relations focus and taking the time to be accurate, informative and effective.
Like mainstream versus online media, hopefully there will always be room for both fast and slow public relations practice.