Some would say that a newspaper story isn’t an actual newspaper story unless it appears in the “real” version of the newspaper. That’s just not true. Online publicity is as valuable, and sometimes even more exciting, than traditional publicity. Consider these benefits of online newspaper coverage:
Printed versions of newspapers have a short shelf life. They’re printed, delivered or bought, read, and then discarded. And that’s that. Yes, you can clip your article, photocopy it, and add it to your media kit. But how many of your prospective clients are likely to cut out your article in the event that they, someday, might want to get in touch with you? Online newspapers are archived, and a simple search on a related topic will turn up your article – anywhere, anytime – when the time comes for your prospective client to find you.
A prospective client can cut your article out of a printed newspaper, photocopy it, and mail it to a friend, thus turning your friend into another prospective client. But how much easier is it for one person to send another person a link to your article?
Most daily newspapers are primarily of regional interest. That necessarily means that their subscribers are mostly – not wholly, but mostly – local. So largely people who live in and around, say, the London area will see the print version of your London article. How many others, though – former London residents, relatives of those live or perhaps attend school in London, executives who do business in London, fans of London sports teams, and so forth – will likely see your article in the online version? And how many of these people have the potential to one day need your services or products?
Publicity is publicity, and few people would turn down publicity however they can get it. However, publicity that appears in print venues is here one moment and gone the next, whereas online publicity can endure and even perpetuate itself. An article in an online newspaper might include a hyperlink to your Web site or your blog. That can bring prospective clients directly to you. It might also motivate other Web site and blog owners to include references to the article (as well as the hyperlinks) which can create buzz about you on the Net and improve your visibility in search engines.
Some traditionalists still hold tightly onto their belief that a newspaper isn’t a newspaper unless they can touch it with their fingers, carry it under their arms, unfold it on the train and, presumably, stain their hands while reading it on the way to work. “Let me know when the article really appears,” these old-school thinkers will say, “and don’t taunt me by citing all of the publications that carried the story online but didn’t deem it important enough to include in their print editions.” Their winning argument, they believe, is the fact that they “can’t even get a clipping” of an article that has appeared only online.
These traditionalists are missing the point. Given the benefits of online coverage, an article that appears only online, or online as well as in print, will be of far greater value than one that appears only in print. Each time a newspaper (or a magazine, for that matter) prints your article online, the potential readership for that story increases exponentially. And you still have bragging rights you would have if you’re tallying up your publicity “hits” for your Web site or media kit. A Guardian mention is a Guardian mention whether it happens online, in print, or both.