What has COVID-19 meant for the UK’s media industry? While it’s still too early to understand the full effect that the pandemic will have on the sector, we are already seeing significant changes, which will affect how marketers plan PR and advertising content in the future.
Do people still read the news?
The rise of digital media and a 24/7 news culture over the past two decades has hugely changed how consumers access information and how news publishing houses operate.
Media consumption increased throughout lockdown, with more than half of consumers reading national news weekly and 3 in 5 people reporting to read publications more than before the pandemic. Furthermore, use of daily news apps increased by 59% at the peak of the pandemic, highlighting the increased adoption of digital formats.
The decline of traditional print media
Before the pandemic, many media houses were already diversifying their revenue streams to compete with content-led blogs and websites which offer news for free. As a result, many publications run their own events, awards and offer digital sponsorship packages alongside traditional advertising to stay viable. COVID-19 has already wiped out much of this year’s events calendar and led to an expected fall in global advertising of $517.5 billion in 2020. With decline in print media advertising likely to amount to 25%, the cut in media spend could spell disaster for some news outlets.
Editorial teams have been leaner for some years, seeing editors rely on a couple of staff writers or freelancers to cover multiple patches and populate print and online space. These teams will be stretched further. Already some of the UK’s biggest media companies have announced redundancies including The Guardian, BBC and Reach, which owns the Mirror, Express and many regional newspapers.
Simultaneously responsible for driving online hits through clickable content and supporting advertising sales, for some outlets, the roles of editors and advertisers will blur. Overloading editorial teams with a broad remit could dilute specialist knowledge and mean that the press has less time to scrutinise public sector activity. Conversely, we expect to see more and more specialist freelance journalists who work across a number of publications and have developed their own profile – as travel writer Simon Calder and personal finance guru Martin Lewis have done.
What does that mean for brands?
An upside to increased media consumption is that almost half of Brits reporting that they are noticing brands more because they’re reading more news.
As publications merge, close or further specialise, there may be fewer traditional PR opportunities available than before, yet their value has hugely increased. Niche content and specialist online publications ensure your content will be seen by your target audience.
When it comes to PR strategy, it is essential to develop insightful, quality stories the media will cover. A straightforward sales announcement to promote a new product or service will not necessarily cut through the numerous press releases landing in journalists’ inboxes daily. Equally, as journalists have been working remotely, it has been even harder to have initial conversations, so we are allowing more time for media outreach and crafting individual pitch emails to secure interest.
As trusted PR professionals, we look at our clients’ ideal customers, then target the publications they read by crafting story ideas that will be of interest to them but also align with our clients’ key messages. Working individually with editors, we strike a balance between presenting our clients’ expertise and product benefits and offering new information that the readership will like – ultimately adding value to our clients, the publication and the readership.
Yes, the industry landscape is changing, but when is it not? It is our responsibility to help our clients to understand how to make an impact in the right places whilst also supporting our media contacts to deliver quality stories and meaningful partnerships.
To discuss PR campaigns, please contact Caroline Walker, 01732 779 087.