This week we learned that the print editions of Computer Weekly and Microscope are to close. It’s a trend that is likely to continue across the media landscape, and not just in the IT sector, as people increasingly turn to the internet and mobile apps for their daily news, information about trends and to research products and services before they buy.
As consumers, the web is generally our first port of call for price comparisons, online reviews and increasingly for recommendations by people we know or follow on social networks. But what about the IT decision makers that us tech PRs are trying to reach on behalf of our clients? Do they still actually read trade publications? And how much emphasis should we put on getting our clients into these titles?
Today, we released research that supports our suspicions that IT chiefs are allowing their “consumer” behaviour to influence how they make IT purchasing decisions. 58% of IT decision makers ranked social networks and online communities as the most useful when researching a business-related IT purchase, followed by search engines (50%), online news sources (36%) and IT industry press (32%).
And, in a sign of the fragmenting digital media landscape, 18% of IT decision makers said they are reading fewer IT print publications than they did 12 months ago, possibly in part because there are less of them. But it’s clear from the research that the value of print is flagging for IT decision makers, with 24% saying they get most of their news online and 16% saying they use more video or podcasts than they did a year ago, highlighting the growing importance of other digital media services.
While this research isn’t the most groundbreaking study, it does serve to confirm what we already know. And, more importantly, it validates the increasing importance of search and social media in the PR mix. It’s no longer about building brand awareness through column inches, but also being found at the point of search and building a community of advocates to promote peer recommendations.