November 17, 2006

Get the facts straight!

Public relations is a very interesting thing. It can be used to deflect attention or guide the gaze and direction in a totally different direction. It is like the sleight of hand in “magic tricks”.

However, at the end of the day, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating.

When one bakes a pudding and its aroma fills the atmosphere, it is not readily apparent just how delicious it is. One has to cut it and eat it. If it is savory and just right, people will come again and again and again.{{more}}

But imagine the next door neighbour whose finished product is not aesthetically pleasing, its aroma hardly fills the air, and the taste is like cardboard. Clearly people will not want to go again and again and spend their money on cardboard.

That’s logical. That’s realistic.

But sometimes, good merchandisers can employ marketing tricks. Ever went to the supermarket and find that in order to dispense of a certain product it is bundled with another? So you have to purchase Product A, though you do not want it, in order to get Product B which you really do need?

In the newspaper business we sell a commodity. It is called “readers”. The more readers we have the more attractive we are to advertisers because we can boast that their advertisement will reach more people than the other publication. That is one aspect.

Another extremely important aspect is the demographics of the audience.

How old are they? Where do they shop? Do they have a good disposable income? Or do the thousands of readers just simply gloss over the full page colour ad to rush to the sensational, juicy stories? Depending on the type of reader that the advertiser wishes to reach, the ad may have to be structured very specifically to attract the readers. For example, to attract some audiences, advertisers may put half naked women next to a lawnmower in order to attract the kind of eyes that normally read sensationalism paper.

Does the audience being targeted have the kind of spending power that the advertiser requires?

The thing which attracts readers is the quality of the newstories that are published. When you pick up the newspaper each Friday are you reading the latest or the stalest? Do you read news that you have heard all week long on radio and television or are you reading new news?

That is like the aroma of the pudding and the savoury taste of it.

Would some sections of the press therefore have advertisers believe that the same old tired look and drab format actually attract large volumes of readers each week?

Here’s another test. By 6 pm Friday, look and see which newspaper has sold out and which still has stacks and stacks with vendors pleading and begging people to buy them. Hand in hand with this, advertisers also ought to enquire about the distribution of the print run. How many of those newspapers printed arrive on these shores. How many are shipped abroad. Once the advertiser knows where his ad is ending up, he will know whether he is in fact reaching the number of people he needs to target in the market that he wants to target.

Another important aspect is web advertising. Today’s advertisers are increasing media spend on the Internet and moving away from traditional media.

In 2004 and 2005 online advertising has been gaining mainstream momentum. Put in plain language online advertising growth has outpaced growth of the ad industry overall, with advertisers coming to regard the Web as an essential brand-building component to their media campaigns.

The Online Publishers Associations research shows that phenomenal growth started in 2004 and has continued as advertisers shift from television and newspaper to websites.

All 2004 records were eclipsed in 2005. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimate that Internet advertising revenues for 2005 are estimated to exceed $12.5 billion, a 30 per cent increase over the previous revenue record of $9.6 billion in 2004. In the UK, online ad spending last year out-paced that of print.

Searchlight delivers in both ways with a very healthy circulation not only in print but also on the web.