A media perspective from the U.S.

Print, the Phone Call and Pressing the Flesh – They Aren’t Dead Yet.

The Blogosphere has fallen too much in love with itself, and that’s a problem. Overhyped and over-promoted on blogrolls and among bloggers, Weblogs can’t live up to their reputation. Everyone has a blog these days, or so it seems, and keeping track of what is relevant and worth reading is hard work. Feeds help, but not by much.

Granted, print media is having a tough time these days. The New York Times has begun selling ad space on its hallowed front page — a practice of other newspapers but not, until now, of the paper of record.

But print is not dead.

Neither is the telephone. For all the ease of communication that e-mail brings, nothing makes a connection with a journalist quite like a phone call.

Neither is pressing the flesh. One of the largest conventions held in the United States just ended. The Consumer Electronics Show drew 110,000 attendees to Las Vegas this year. According to an article in PC World, attendance was down 22% from last year. Still, over 100,000 people went to conduct business face to face.

PR and publicity thrive on the personal connection. Our profession thrives on news and points of view and providing journalists and producers with story ideas. This is an oversimplified analysis of our jobs, but you already know that.

The general wisdom says that as print pulls back, printing fewer pages per issue, there will be more competition for print space. But from what I’m seeing, companies are also trimming their PR budgets.

My theory is that we will see a resurgence of print. Less space means more competition for it, which means that what does end up in print becomes even more valuable.

Weblogs offer little to no actual newsgathering capacity. Blogs compile information and news from elsewhere, from real news organizations.

As Steven Waldman wrote in “Why the Huffington Post Can’t Replace the New York Times”, “The idea that the Huffington Post, or the explosion of interesting internet news or blogging sites, can replace journalistic institutions like the New York Times or other newspapers or dinosaurs of the mainstream media truly misunderstands the web, newspapers, journalism and the serious threat posed to democracy if the news gathering institutions fail.”

What wins out in these perilous economic times are old-fashioned PR strategies. The phone calls and face-to-face meetings to pitch stories to journalists and editors.

The companies that maintain and even increase their PR budgets have an edge in this competitive atmosphere. They have a much better chance of claiming a piece of that valuable print real estate.

While we don’t control the media, a successful pitch results in a newspaper or magazine article. And when clients have something to hold in their hands, to cut out and frame, then we realize all the more the value of a print story.

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