Often when I talk to people outside the publishing industry, or someome junior or inexperienced in the marketing space, they’ll ask about the divide between print and online. They’ll want to know which side are we on, or they’ll talk about how they’re allocating their budgets between the two, or favouring one over the other.
I ask them to consider their own experience, where and how they get their information. Quickly they realise that people switch between media without a second thought. They may browse a print magazine in their lunch room, and see something they’re interested in, so they’ll pull out their mobile and search for more information. Once back at their desk they’ll get their online news from a site they know and trust, because the site also has a well-known print publication. Later, after seeing a post on social media, they will be reminded of an article they’d read recently and they’ll find it on their shelf, and so on.
There is no artificial divide between print and online media. People get information in the form that suits them best at the time that suits them (or that best suits the content), and they will quickly and unconsciously switch between the two.
Print can be better for presenting more timeless content, beautiful imagery, in-depth reading and communicating a stronger sense of prestige. Online media works best for breaking news, search, quick answers and short attention spans. But it’s not as simple as that either. And it doesn’t have to be.
The modern publisher needs to be able to provide information when and where a reader needs it, in whatever format suits best. And the modern marketer needs to take advantage of this and deliver their message in the same way, without worrying about any imaginary divide.
A marketer’s first question shouldn’t be what the medium is, but who the audience is, and needs to use all channels available to reach the right audience.