Engaging CultureMedia Production

Why Traditional Media Still Matters

It’s popular to prophesy about the demise of traditional TV, newspapers, print books, radio, and more, but just when you get dressed for the funeral, the dead keep coming back. For instance, from personal experience, I can tell you that when someone releases a new book and are looking for publicity, they still want to be featured on network TV, have a review in major newspapers, and do radio interviews. They know that’s where the largest audience is concentrated. And the research confirms it: 

23% of Americans still read a paper copy of a daily newspaper.
55% still watch national TV news.
48% still listen to local radio.
24% are still watching cable.

Certainly those numbers are down overall, but think about it – should we dismiss any media platform that’s reaching 23% of the population? And how about the 55% still watching national TV?  Especially as we watch a major global event like the Olympics, it’s easy see that traditional media still has enormous impact.

There are so many more interesting statistics that I don’t even have space to include them all. For instance: even though 20-something’s aren’t supposed to remember anything about physical books, 87% still buy the print version of textbooks – even when the eBook is offered free.  Even Millennials are starting to say they prefer print because it’s easier to follow stories – which may account for this year’s uptick in print sales over eBooks on Amazon.

Digital media is a significant part of the future – no question. But as I’ve said before, media platforms don’t go away – they just find a new level.

I’d love to know how many of you readers are still using traditional media alongside digital media?

– Statistics from “Mastering The New Media Landscape” by Barbara Cave Hendricks and Rusty Shelton

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  1. When I used to make these kinds of decisions for my church, I usually scaled back newspaper and yellow pages listings to a minimum. Many suggested to just stop completely, but I knew that there are still a substantial number of people who read newspapers and used phone books instead of google. I didn’t want to withdraw completely, but they also clearly weren’t how most people were learning about our church.

    Many debate using bulletins. But I believe you miss a huge opportunity to communicate if you drop them completely. Sure, streamline them. Minimize them. Use them to point to the web or social, but don’t drop them completely.

    Today you have to constantly evaluate and re-adjust your communications strategies to be affective. And traditional mediums can still play a role depending on your target audience.

    I am not surprised about print textbooks. You lose your physical frame of reference with ebooks…I often remember the side of the page and approximate location of key information from books. If it’s a book I will need to refer back too often (like a text book or reference book) I prefer print. But for casual reading, I now prefer digital. Though there are a couple tips to make the most of reading ebooks. (http://www.cooperjason.com/3-tips-for-reading-on-a-kindle-or-other-e-reader/)

  2. The issue is cost and ROI.

    When I was the CCO at my church (sdrock.com) we made huge shifts away from traditional media for two reasons: 1) it cost too much and 2) ROI was near impossible to gauge or measure. Digital media isn’t just where most church target audiences live, it’s a cheaper and more ROI effective medium. Sure…all things being equal, be everywhere; heck…keep doing direct mail….but all things are not equal. Most churches do not have near enough $$ for communication.

    Today I work with dozens of unique churches and non-profits through my agency – historicagency.com Digital is getting measurable results for my clients like they never seen or experienced through traditional media.

    I agree with Phil about the reinvention of traditional media; but most of them are being reinvented to serve / support a digital first campaign.

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