Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Print Media: Placement Strategies for the New Segmentation

Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Print Media: Placement Strategies for the New Segmentation

Article excerpt

What's happening in the world of print media can best be summarized by the words of John Emery,, president of the Association of Business Publishers (ABP): "Segmentation is the name of the game." While it may not exactly be news, Public relations practitioners and media representatives alike agree that this trend, which began in the 1970s, has contributed to nearly every major development in the print media in this decade and will continue to do so in the next,

The specialization is largely market-driven. As advertisers seek to reach specific segments of the consumer population, publishers try to deliver them, often by fine-tuning or otherwise adjusting their editorial product, and sometimes by spinning off or acquiring new properties. As Emery notes, "If you stand pat, someone else is going to go out and segment your market for you." This trend, known as micromarketing, doesn't stop there. A host of new, non-traditional advertising vehicles have entered the fray. Traditional print media OUtlets such as newspapers, consumer magazines, and specialized business or trade magazines are now faced with some entirely new competition aside from their old nemesis, the electronic media. Innovative marketing ideas such as wallboards or posters in schools and doctors' offices and devices such as electronic coupons at the supermarket cash register are growing in appeal and gaining the attention of major advertisers.

Micro- marketing is also having its effect on Public relations goals and strategies.

"Because of the necessity to reach different publics, clients increasingly are turning to different media categories," points out Jonathan Schenker, APR, vice president and director of media relations at Ketchum Public Relations. Most, he says, are now focusing on fewer, more targeted outlets, This less-is-more approach means looking not only at a publication's name and prestige, but paying more attention to its table of contents and asking, "Is this the best outlet for me?"

Not surprisingly, all of this has had a significant impact on media relations. "The days of the mass mailing producing boxes of clips are gone," says Sue Bohle, APR, president of The Bohle Company, Los Angeles, one of many practitionersand reporters-who made similar comments. David Olmos, a staff writer who covers technology, and aerospace for the Orange County edition of The Los Angeles Times, criticizes mass mailings as "a waste of clients' money." In their place is what Bohle calls "the belly-to-belly, or one-on-one placement." Schenker concurs, pointing out that the challenge now is "to target and shape and strategize even tighter."

Newspapers: Reformatting for survival

Newspapers have been hardest hit by the specialized publication explosion. As Gary Hoenig, editor of News Inc., a new trade magazine covering the newspaper industry, has obs"What was once the only source of information, and even recently the dominant source, is now just another alternative in a world drowning in information."

Reflecting this new reality, newspapers' circulation and share of ad dollars have been steadily losing ground. According to the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA), 1988 %%,as the third consecutive year in which newspapers gave up share of total ad spending to other media. As reported in ANPA's Presstime, "Although newspapers remain the largest advertising medium, with overall newspaper expenditures growing 6.1 percent in 1988 to $31.2 billion, their share of the pie decreased half a percentage point, to 26.3 percent." Gaining, at newspapers' expense, were direct mail, the third largest medium by ad revenue, and television, the second largest.

Compounding this problem, growth in total U.S. weekday circulation was virtually stagnant in 1988, increasing a mere 0.2 percent from the previous year And while morning circulation gained slightly (2.5 percent), evening circulation continued its 23-year decline, dropping 3. …

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