It is a common debate in the PR profession. Are clip books useless, or do they still hold value? I think the answer could go either way. On one hand, clip books and impressions are a thing of the past because they cannot be tied directly to sales. On the other hand, clip books can visually show placement success and increased coverage year-over-year.
Depending on your business and the industry you are in, clip books may or may not be valuable to you. Furthermore, it also depends on the focus of your communications program. If the focus of your public relations program is more around internal communications and investor relations, then a clip book really would not do any good. If your focus, however, is on building brand awareness and increasing publicity, then a clip book can be a helpful tool. Also, it can help validate the organization’s investment in public relations, as well as give insight into the success of the PR program all together.
With our B2B clients, I have found that keeping clips books is an easy way to look back on previous coverage, including contributed articles, product profiles, and general brand mentions. I can quickly see what we have already done, which helps determine where we need to go. I can also gauge from quarter to quarter which publications are covering more or less news. If it seems that a client appears less in a publication than normal, I need to find out why. Has there been less news coming from the client, or do I need to reach out to the contact more by offering quality content?
While clip books are an old practice, lessons can still be learned from them. If you are utilizing a public relations program to build awareness, then I would recommend keeping a clip book. I would not gauge the entire program on the number of clips in the book, but it can help you out along the way. And, hey, it doesn’t hurt to be able to go to the boss and show off that gleaming article about the company in your target outlet.