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Publicists Dish on Their Preferences... Print Vs. Online

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Wednesday, Dec 8, 2010
What was the real meaning behind this question of print vs. online? Is one preferable now? If so, why? My guess was that print carried more weight but was that really the case, especially nowadays?

For anyone who’s written a music review in the last few years and approached a publicist for an advance copy of an album or a place on a show’s guest list, one question you’ll hear back commonly is ‘will this appear online or in print?’ I’ve heard this so much that it started to become background noise and standard practice for the biz. But I started wondering about it recently again, especially with print publications sinking so quickly or going the online-only route now. 


What was the real meaning behind this question of print vs. online? Is one preferable now? If so, why? My guess was that print carried more weight but was that really the case, especially nowadays?


Obviously, the best source are the publicists themselves so I asked about a dozen of them if they’d like to speak about this. About half responded and I thought it would be instructive not only for other people involved in the biz but also any music fan to see how these mechanisms work from an inside perspective, including both labels and promotion/marketing companies that work with several labels.


Thanks to the people below who participated and opened up about this interesting facet of the music business. And just so you know, this article is appearing online!  NOTE TO OTHER PUBLICISTS OUT THERE: What’s your take on this?  Do you agree with what’s said here?
  


 

Nils Bernstein (Matador Records)


I would say there’s more prestige in having an article appear in print, if only because virtually all print pieces end up on the publications’ sites anyway.  It would be much trickier to answer were this not the case. It’s rarely an either/or proposition; print-only and online-only pieces tend to be quite different (say, concert reviews, slideshows, and news online, vs record reviews and interviews in print).  Occasionally a piece intended for print gets ‘demoted’ to online, but then I find often those pieces end up getting more ‘pickup’ (Facebook ‘like’s, re-tweets, etc.) than the print piece might (even if the print piece is online, often it doesn’t get as much online ‘real estate’ as an ‘online exclusive’).  So I’d say the days of online being print’s earnest little brother are quickly fading.


If a writer says that the review will be online only or print only, how often do you then have to turn down the request?
That’s kind of impossible to answer. I never “have to” do anything, it’s pretty much just at my discretion.  It’s really case-by-case based on whether it’s expensive (like concert tickets), the bands’ workloads, etc…


 

Josh Bloom (Fanatic Promotion)


When a writer queries about an artist/album/show, how often do you ask them if their article will appear in print or online?
Usually I already know based on who is asking. If I truly don’t know if it’ll be one or the other, I’ll ask, but in the vast majority of cases, I’ll just know based on the stature of the artist in question and who is writing the piece.


When you ask a writer if an article will appear in print or online, who is it that you work with that’s trying to find this out? Is it the artist, their management, their label, your own company?
Typically, it’s me. I’m the liaison between the press and the artist, management, etc., so I’m responsible for reporting this information back to the client and am the party most interested in this info at the outset.


When you ask a writer about this, do you feel that there’s more prestige in having the article appear online or in print?
There’s still more prestige with print, even when speaking about press coverage in general. It’s still better to get a feature in a fashion magazine like Soma, than it is a review on Pitchfork.


Reason being is that print is luxury, it’s tactile, it exists in the world as an organic entity. Online is just push button at the end of the day. It’s often the fast food of journalism, especially music journalism. Print can’t be unplugged, and it can’t be revised. When it hits the page, that’s it.


 

Sonya Kolowrat (Beggars Group)


When a writer queries about an artist/album/show, how often do you ask them if their article will appear in print or online?
If it’s unclear, I always ask.


When you ask a writer if an article will appear in print or online, who is it that you work with that’s trying to find this out?  Is it the artist, their management, their label, your own company?
All of the above minus the artist. They mostly don’t need to worry about such details.


When you ask a writer about if a review is going to appear in print or online, do you feel that there’s more prestige in having the article appear in one format or the other?
In this day and age it really depends on the outlet/site and the size/circulation and the placement etc. I think many people still really like a nice printed piece and feel like it is still a crucial part of a press campaign. A print article is on the stands for longer, and there are a LOT of people in the world that don’t find out about their music via the internet, so we need to make sure they know about records too. However, in most cases, anything in print appears online too, and the amount of eyes looking at online pieces can be HUGE. So, I can’t say which is more prestigious. Too many factors, but I can say that print is sexier.


 

Aleix Martinez (Girlie Action)


When a writer queries about an artist/album/show, how often do you ask them if their article will appear in print or online?
I ask every single time because ,as a publicist, it’s a big part of your job to know when and where things are running so you can communicate that to the label and artist.


When you ask a writer if an article will appear in print or online, who is it that you work with that’s trying to find this out?  Is it the artist, their management, their label, your own company?
It’s all of us. Everyone likes to stay on top of everything as it happens. Press is important to everyone including retail and radio so its important to let everyone know where things are running.


When you ask a writer about this, do you feel that there’s more prestige in having the article appear online or in print?
I don’t feel that there is inherently more prestige in either. Online is great to spread news fast, introduce new artists, disseminate music, and create a buzz. When you’re looking for an in depth 3,000 word story on someone, that’s going to usually be print. I think most people realize that they both have their strengths and are equally important. While everyone still wants to be in print magazines, all of my clients know how important online outlets are and we prioritize them. Also, even the most old school rock critics have blogs now.


If a writer says that the review will be online only or print only, how often do you then have to turn down the request?  Briefly, when you do this, what’s the reasoning behind it?
It really depends on the outlet. Many online outlets have more impact than some print ones so really it comes down to that. I never turn down requests for music from anyone looking to do a review no mater how small the blog or zine. When I turn down concert ticket requests it’s because we always have a limited amount of tickets to work with and of course the most popular acts have the most expensive shows and the budget may only allow for a handful of tickets so you prioritize the outlets with the largest scope.


 

Kasey Price (230 Publicity)


When a writer queries about an artist/album/show, how often do you ask them if their article will appear in print or online?
If I know there is a possibility of print OR online, I’ll always ask so I know what to expect.


When you ask a writer if an article will appear in print or online, who is it that you work with that’s trying to find this out?  Is it the artist, their management, their label, your own company?
The band, management and label usually wants to know and I’m always curious as well.


When you ask a writer about this, do you feel that there’s more prestige in having the article appear online or in print?
I feel like there is still a desire from artists to have something as tangible as a magazine covering their music. So in that way, there’s more prestige in having the article appear in print. But no one should underestimate the power of online coverage since the majority of press has moved in that direction anyways. On the flip side, I think that’s another reason that it’s more prestigious to have something in print because it’s harder to get.


 

Traci Thomas (Thirty Tigers)


When a writer queries about an artist/album/show, how often do you ask them if their article will appear in print or online?
If it’s an outlet that has both print and online version I always ask.


When you ask a writer if an article will appear in print or online, who is it that you work with that’s trying to find this out?  Is it the artist, their management, their label, your own company?
I’m typically the one that wants to know but more than likely someone in the team will eventually ask so it’s good to already have the knowledge.


When you ask a writer about this, do you feel that there’s more prestige in having the article appear online or in print? 
It depends on the publication. Some have great traffic on their sites others not so much. But yes, generally I think there’s more prestige in print, I’m still a believer in print. I also understand the power of online publications. It’s all about getting the most impressions possible for your client so the more the merrier, print or online.


 

Two late breaking entries:
Garrett Baker (FlipSwitchPR)


Most of our artists are requesting print media. It actually varies a lot really, since we advertise as a “digital publicity firm”, artists come to us looking to get that new “online presence” but then since we work with a lot of old, traditional world music groups, they are generally interested in getting print media.


I never ask ‘will this be in print or online’ because I get what I can, but I would guess other publicists use that to judge if they should spend the time on it or not if it’s not print.  So in my eyes/experience, it’s mainly the artists really wanting print media vs. online.


None of your answers seemed to really mention what the artists thought.


 



Jonny Kaps +1


When a writer queries about an artist/album/show, how often do you ask them if their article will appear in print or online?


If there is a print component to the outlet, I always ask. 


When you ask a writer if an article will appear in print or online, who is it that you work with that’s trying to find this out?  Is it the artist, their management, their label, your own company?


Usually someone from the team wants to know, be it the label, manager, publicist, or sometimes even the artist.  Information is key when marketing and promoting an artist.


When you ask a writer about this, do you feel that there’s more prestige in having the article appear online or in print?


A few years ago, there was definitely more prestige in print, but I think now everyone realizes the importance of online exposure.  My preference is always to ideally have coverage in both print and online of course, as that is the way to get the most reach for the artist.  I feel like the print component is especially important with newspapers for a touring artist, where the free weekly for example is often distributed at key physical locations and coverage can help ticket sales.  But online coverage is definitely the best way to build a viral buzz these days; the hope is for one post to spread to other portals and networks across the world wide web.

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