by Stephen Lawrence*
The iPad was released last Saturday. Until last week coverage of the iPad was limited by Apple’s press embargo, which restricted the potential
consumer’s access to both imagery and analysis. For the online Apple enthusiasts, this may have been an unavoidable hindrance, but it did little to quell the enthusiasm for all postings iPad-related. While social media circles were abuzz for weeks prior in anticipation of the April 3rd release, the coverage in the traditional (print) media was more subdued in the buildup.
The first images of Apple’s tablet computer were revealed, along with its name, in late January. Outside of tech circles, the public (online or offline) saw precious little imagery of the product in action until the release weekend. And again, for that dedicated market segment, that was of minor impart as their purchasing decision was set. But for another segment of the populace the coverage of the iPad by the traditional media in that crucial introductory weekend window would be their introduction to Apple’s revolutionary platform. What did the readership see of the iPad in their weekend newspapers? What did or didn’t they encounter if they happened to read that self-same article online?
Analysis of the coverage drawn from 60 major U.S .newspapers, for the release weekend of April 3-5, reveals a familiar pattern of content and coverage that we have seen in previous postings.
Out of 45 iPad-related articles which ran that day – the day of the iPad’s release – 33 were accompanied by an image of the product. The majority of these graphics were reproductions of the official release photo of the iPad. When compared with their corresponding web versions, only eight articles published the original image. The remainder consisted only of text. Only one out of a dozen syndicated articles could be located online.
Sunday sees a doubling of articles and imagery as the focus shrifts to local iPad frenzy. Newspapers in all major markets published a combination of syndicated and original content typically datelined from an Apple retail showroom. Photos of campout lines and of the lucky first purchaser accounted for nearly 100 images found in print that day. While some corresponding sites did contain a wealth of extras, such as video and interviews, the overall ratio was only slightly higher than from the previous day. Only 44 of those valuable images transitioned from print to web.
Less than 40 of the major papers ran an iPad article in their Monday editions. Many of them took a business news angle, reporting sales figures from the previous weekend. And, quite interestingly, only half of those were accompanied by a graphic of either an original or syndicated flavor. While this may have been related to either the news cycle or typical Monday space limitations in print, on the web-side a mere 10 of the 40 ran with graphics.
The release of the iPad was a huge event and not only for Apple. Application providers and traditional media outlets are betting on the iPad for the delivery of multiple layers of content and increased revenue. Thus, more than a few industry watchers have commented that the iPad’s release was simply “too big to fail.” Even with all of these factors in its favor, though, there was a considerable loss in content for the iPad’s coverage when transitioning from print to corresponding web coverage.
I’ve heard it said that “some people will read your story and some people will read part of your story, but EVERYONE will look at the picture.” If this is the case the accompanying image is vital to measuring impact. If the picture isn’t there could you be losing a prospective buying audience? If you aren’t evaluating the whole story with pictures, where they are included, is your marketing team able to properly evaluate the impact of your brand? This study again leaves me with a lot of questions and one answer: the image is a powerful component to have in your PR and communications arsenal.
If the release was for a lesser known product or a launch of a new brand, what kind of impact do you think the lack of consistent translation from print to online coverage or lack of image would have on reception? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.
*Bio: A native of Mesa, Arizona, I graduated from the University of Arizona with a major in Near Eastern Studies. I began my career with BurrellesLuce in 1997 as a reader. As with most readers, I developed a special relationship with my assigned papers – those small town dailies and weeklies of the same flavor that my family had been employed in for two generations. Currently, I hold the position of quality assurance specialist, troubleshooting daily production issues. Outside interests include woodworking, and keeping my wife and dog happy. Twitter: BurrellesLuce; Facebook: BurrellesLuce