The Traditional Media in 2016: Evolution or Revolution?
Friday, January 8th, 2016
Why a changing landscape should excite even the business world’s most grizzled individuals
BARELY a week goes by without a sad story of redundancies and cutbacks at historic and much-loved newspaper brands and other traditional media outlets.
But the apparent doom and gloom is juxtaposed with a flourishing online world, with the human race digesting phenomenal amounts of content and the honed skills of experienced journalists and writers in ever increasing demand.
So here is the big question: Will 2016 be the year that ‘traditional media’ manages the
most difficult challenge it has ever faced – by cracking the code to making money online, before the journalistic staff is cut so far that can no longer realistically function as news providers?
Why is this important to your business? A thriving and healthy media doesn’t just hold local and national Government to account, it is also one of the most important way for businesses to spread their news, milestones and achievements with new and existing customers.
SCOTLAND’S QUALITY TITLES
Perhaps the most vulnerable titles in Scotland are the two grand old ladies of quality journalism – The Scotsman and the Herald.
Both have been hit hard by dwindling circulations as readers move online. Both have been blighted by wave after wave of job cuts, to the point where some observers wonder how much longer they can actually survive.
However they are still fighting. In late 2015 The Scotsman, the bastion of Scottish print news which is approaching its 200th anniversary, opted for a full and thorough refresh. This brightened up the newspaper, but perhaps more importantly it marked a huge improvement of its online offering.
It was clear that the Edinburgh-based title had concluded that it simply could not go on losing money and cutting jobs.
The resulting new website is a vast improvement on its predecessor and was launched after extensive market research. Paired with an effective use of social media, the Scotsman is targeting a wide audience, is clearly committed to uploading quality content and sees the website as the long term future of the brand.
The middle of the Scotsman newsroom even has a giant screen that shows the live popularity of online articles, actively encouraging journalists to push to get their articles higher.
At the other end of the M8, The media group, Newsquest, has just announced it is to make redundancies at its Herald, Sunday Herald and Glasgow Evening Times publications – another sorry tale that is in keeping with the trends of recent years.
Expect to see musings of a rebrand at the Herald as it looks to fight back following the latest round of redundancies. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the cash-strapped group at some point simply must look to relaunch its online offering to at least keep up with its rivals.
Could we even see the print paper bow to pressure and take up tabloid format?
These national institutions need content more than ever and with fewer journalists. Which means that good PR has never been so important to both the journalists and to business, for the opportunities that this extra demand and cut resources creates.
Don’t expect to see many more paywalls spring up in 2016.
It was an understandable and natural reaction of newspapers in their transition online to implement a charge for articles.
But with the multitude of online outlets delivering free news content, the vast majority of consumers simply don’t feel they should pay and as a result these online news sources are not attractive to advertisers.
So much so that in October 2015 the Scottish Sun (and its UK parent newspaper) scrapped its paywall after a lengthy test which did nothing to stave off falling newspaper sales, while hammering the paper’s once healthy online readership.
Meanwhile, both the Daily Mail and the Guardian have continued to thrive online, by pursuing a relentless drive to deliver the kind of content that appeals to a global audience – though the respective papers’ business models couldn’t be more different.
This year it is likely that papers launching and boosting their online offerings will need to drive substantial amounts of traffic, creating an attractive platform for potential advertisers. In 2016 this will be key to survival.
Take a look at our predictions for the digital world in 2016
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Here at Holyrood PR we are unashamedly pro-local newspapers and think that they serve an irreplaceable service in the community.
What’s more they are generally trusted, popular and despite some closures, have seen little decline in recent years compared to their national counterparts.
There is even a healthy debate suggesting it is thriving. In fact, local media in the UK is reaching bigger audiences than ever before across its print, online and broadcast platforms. It delivers local news and information to 33 million print readers a week and 42 million web users a month.
Local titles are also looking to take full advantage of their online offerings and learning to monetise their websites. With a generally limited audience, in 2016 expect their use of social media –and especially Facebook – to drive traffic and stir up debate to be of great importance.
Done well the local papers have a great advantage in this in that they provide an outlet for relevant, local news to impact small passionate communities. Both the Edinburgh Evening News and the Dunfermline Press have managed to draw on local passions to deliver social media sites of real impact.
Will 2016 be the year the traditional media unlocks the potential that the online world provides?
Perhaps it won’t be. But brave relaunches of dated newspaper websites, a relentless commitment to quality and the help of intuitive, skilled PR agencies feeding relevant multimedia content could just unlock the door.
And that is precisely what excites this PR agency most. The role we can play and the opportunities we now have to get the great work of our clients told to the world.
Make 2016 your Year of prolific storytelling – with help from our award-winning PR agency
Holyrood PR is Scotland’s Outstanding Small Public Relations Agency, having collected the coveted title in October 2015.
That means we are ideally placed – with all the right skills and a range of PR services, to tell your business story to the world.
We’d love the chance to speak with you about the exciting PR possibilities for your business. We’re a chatty bunch and you can phone us on 0131 561 2244, or fill in the simple form below and we’ll get straight back to you:
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If you have any comments or questions, please contact us.