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How does The Times going paywall affect the PR industry?

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Aside from the obvious out-of-pocket expenses rise with The Times going behind a paywall, how is this going to affect PROs?

For a starter The Times Online becomes becomes a less attractive publication  to pitch in stories to, with the number of unique users estimated to fall from 1.2 million to 20,000 according to Forrester Research

It is also unclear how much (if any) Google juice stories will have as no one knows how the paywalled site will manage placing content into the Google index, or whether Google would want to index it given Rupert Murdoch’s hostility to the search engine. Usually, search engine take this content in on a specially formatted XML feed, but News International would be in a rather one-sided negotiation stance with Google over why they should take it.

This is all best guess speculation at the moment and it may be wrong. Sky disrupted the UK TV market and encouraged a substantial amount of the population to pay for television content where free content reigned previously. However this was mostly down to must-see exclusive content; something that The Times doesn’t have. Unlike fellow News Corp publication the Wall Street Journal – it isn’t an essential business tool either, given that there is equivalent high quality content easily available from around the world online The Times is in a tough position.

If the estimates are right then Times online-only coverage for clients may have little-to-no benefit for clients. What do you think?

Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week