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Online news not read after 36 hours

A study by my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, found that online news will be barely read by anyone 36 hours after it was first posted.

Not good news for law firms and other professional business firms who like to post articles on their web sites and keep them for months and years at a time. Logic being that current and prospect clients will read this content as a means to size up the firm. Sure, if there’s enough content for it to be a virtual library, most never the case, the content may have marketing value. Otherwise it’s marketing value is fleeting, at best.

Steve Rubel, my source for this post, questions whether blogs were taken into account in the study.

While I don’t doubt the research (I nearly failed higher math), somehow I don’t believe it takes the blogosphere fully into account. Blogs do a marvelous job of keeping a story alive for more than 36 hours. I’d love to see someone build on this with blog data.

Regardless, the Notre Dame research has implications for PR. As more people get their news online rather than off, teams need to strategize how they time key news announcements to capitalize on the 36 hours. Working with bloggers can keep the momentum going. In fact, a couple of years ago Mary Meeker covered this in some detail and I offered some PR context.

When I managed media relations campaigns, I used to suggest staggering big news over weeks – kind of like running a marathon. Now, with online news dominating, it might be better to get a bunch of quick hits in succession over a few days in a sprint-like fashion (for those who have this luxury) and then build momentum in the blogosphere.

Man, if law firms and other professional service firms don’t have enough proof that they need a presence in the blogosphere, they’re sticking their head in the sand.

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