Electronic, print, social media — different paths to reach your goals!  All of these are forms of media that you can use to HUGE benefit to your organization. Knowing the differences — and similarities — between them will help you plan your media strategy.  First, let’s define a few terms to help you understand these media types:

Electronic print social media – some definitions.

Lead time – this is the amount of time that is required for a story to be accepted and then appear in the media.

Impact – this is the amount of time and the number of people who will see your story.  If your story is repeated then its impact will increase.

Broadcast – the time and way a media outlet will get your message out to its audience.

Circulation – the number of people who read a paper or magazine.

Grab – a short burst of sound, vision, comment or message that can be used to sum up the story.

Buzz – the positive (we hope) discussions and reposts of your story that are created by your audience.

Hype – the positive discussion that you create about your organization in the media.


What what are electronic, print and social media?

electronic print social media

Electronic media – this is media that use some form of electronics to broadcast your message and includes television and radio. TV is considered to have high impact, often with tens of thousands, even millions, of people seeing your story.  Generally, the lead times are very short — A television station gets your press release and your story is being broadcast within 24 hours. With radio, the impact is usually not as strong as with TV, with fewer people hearing your story, and without the visual component.  This means that for both of these forms of media you need to develop a press release that allows them to make use of their medium — TV MUST have great visual potential (and more than just a talking head) and Radio MUST have a great soundscape (background noises that add to the story).  The lifetime of an electronic media story can be very short.  A 15 second news story may be seen by millions, but may never be shown again.

electronic print social mediaPrint media – this is media in which your message will be in the printed form (which can now include printed online).   Newspapers, newsletters and magazines fall into this media type.   Typically lead times are a little longer for print media – such as a few days for a newspaper – and can be very long for high level magazines.   Normally these require great images to go with their story – and they will happily accept high quality images from you rather than insisting they send out a photographer – but both can happen for good stories.  Each newspaper and magazine has its circulation numbers  – ie the number of people who will see your story.  However you should consider that your story has a longer life-time in print that it does on TV and radio as people can pick it up a week or more later and still see your message.

electronic print social mediaSocial Media – this is the media which you feed information from your own organization via the internet.  It includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and so many more.  Social media is quite different from the other forms of media as you have to build your own audience over time, rather than relying on a TV, radio or newspaper to build that group.  Social media has amazingly fast lead times (seconds for some stories) and there is no way to control its flows and trends.   However, it can be used extremely well to target special interest groups.  The trick in social media is to convert your hype into buzz.  The ultimate buzz is when your story goes viral – meaning it seems to take on a life of its own and gets a huge number of people reading (hit) the content.  A story you put up on social media can be almost impossible to erase…so be very careful!


Every good media campaign should examine the use of all three types of media – electronic, print, social media – to get its message into the wider community.

Electronic, Print, Social Media – whats the difference?

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