An integral part of public relations (PR) is the press clipping service. Its function is to acquire and distribute any media (print, television, radio, Internet) that makes mention of the client/product of a PR campaign. As such, it provides an essential service to consolidate communication in the form of expansion, or outlet of a PR campaign’s message and the audience reaction to the campaign effort.
The history of a press clipping service appears to have had nothing to do with public relations in its current understood function, although it was a loosely related act of vanity. In 1852 London, on the prompting of actors, artists and musicians who would frequent his shop, a newsagent decided to begin collecting clips from the newspaper that made mention of these artistic types.
From that humble, profitable beginning, the press clipping service began. It expanded from newspapers and magazines to radio and television with the advent of these technologies, and then to the Internet and social media. 1998 saw the first press clipping service, now also called a media monitoring service to cover the expansive outlet of media, to offer Internet monitoring.
With the ease of use of Internet search engines and email transmission, press clipping has become a virtually immediate access phenomenon. Customers of a press clipping service can have access to the clips on specific subjects of their choosing submitted to them within minutes, if needed, even if the press clipping service is located somewhere around the globe.
However, many service providers still engage in the old-school print media clipping collection, even though many print media outlets have online editions. There are some who do not. Eventually, although no one knows just when, print media will likely either have online duplication, or they will not be in business.
There are numerous customers of press clipping service; chiefly among them are PR agencies, although many PR firms have vertically integrated the service to accommodate faster service to ever more demanding clients. Many of those clients also employ press clipping service directly, be they product manufacturers, political campaigns, industrial trade and professional organizations, publishers, government agencies, or states and countries.
One of the challenges to a press clipping service is the proliferation of media from which the service must research to acquire and provide salient clips to their clients. Even with the facility of Internet search engines, the volume of media is expanding.
Another current challenge for a press clipping service is that while English remains the worldwide dominant language of commerce, the fact also remains that public relations and its extensions operate in many languages. As a result, neither manual nor Internet search engines capably translate searches into multiple languages. The facility of transition from one language to another still offers a tremendous challenge that is currently overcome by laborious manual translation and then search for salient clips of media.
Regardless of these challenges, press clipping service provides an essential, strategic function in public relations. From its humble beginnings, it has grown to be an essential arm of public relations.