Is an online media placement “ding, ding, ding–worthy?”

We have a tradition at Fineman PR to celebrate our media relations success – an old-fashioned retail bell that gets a work out when we strike media gold. There are days when that bell is ringing non-stop in celebration of back-to-back online placements – which wouldn’t have been the case even a couple years back.

The Fineman PR bell.

The definition of media gold has evolved for both us as PR practitioners as well as our clients. It used to be a broadcast segment or print story equaled the brass ring and an “online only” story was a “B” placement. But, as the media industry has evolved with “traditional” media outlets suffering cuts and closures and as new technologies including smart phones and tablets have transformed how we receive the news, online media has gained in readership, credibility, influence …and value.

I was recently flipping through the final print issue of SmartMoney magazine, which ran in print from April 1992 through September 2012, and will now be all-digital. The farewell note from the editor said this move was taking one step into the future, to offer news as fast as possible. The cover shot was the SmartMoney magazine superimposed on an iPad, as this will most likely be the way most readers will now experience the magazine. Readers get the same reporting, writing and coverage just via a different medium. The editor noted that several of its journalists will continue with SmartMoney.com or move over to the parent publication, The Wall Street Journal, both owned by News Corp. Several major media conglomerates are increasingly moving to all-digital platforms as they seek new ways to monetize their content. Wine Spectator, SmartMoney.com, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times all have pay walls in place and require subscriptions in order to access much of the premier content – mashable.com reported that in 2011 for the first time more people get their news online than from newspapers.

Even lifestyle-oriented, image-rich publications, such as Sunset, Bon Appetit, Outside or Wine Spectator, – once coffee table reads that could be referred to throughout the month – now offer rich online content and are also being read on mobile devices during the daily commute, or on PCs, etc.

Online-only outlets have grown, and Reuters reported that in 2011 online readership and advertising revenue has surpassed that of print newspapers. Popular sites such as Huffington Post have readership numbers that far surpass the most impressive “traditional” outlets – close to 31 million unique visitors per month. Hyper-targeted CNN.com’s Eatocracy blog is a food client’s dream with daily musings and articles about food, nutrition, ingredients, food issues and cooking. With more than 322,000 unique visitors per month, its reach rivals the top print food magazines. And the list goes on, with regional sites replacing print outlets in major markets as one of few (or the only) sources of local news and happenings reaching millions of readers.

As a matter of course, we now actively target online-only media as part of our PR programming to ensure a broad reach that not only lives on indefinitely and provides a great boost for search engine optimization, but also offsets print  coverage that is becoming more scarce as many outlets move to all-digital formats.

Let’s face it, sometimes reading (and physically holding) a magazine or flipping through the paper newspaper on the weekend is a welcomed luxury – one that I enjoy. But, time-crunched and technology-starved consumers mostly want instant gratification at their fingertips in the form of online media.

So the next time I have a client featured on SmartMoney.com, you better believe I’m going to ring the bell.

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