The way we access news is changing

In this latest blog, our PR team looks at how the way we access newspapers and magazines is changing and how it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“The last couple of decades have been difficult for the UK newspaper and magazine industry.  Spending on newspapers fell from £4.45 bn in 2005 to under £2.8 bn in 2020. National newspaper sales have been declining for years and in local areas, there was a loss of at least 265 local newspaper titles between 2005 and 2020.  (source Press Gazette)

This has created ‘newspaper deserts’ where some local towns or areas have been left without a local newspaper.  Communities have argued that this harms democracy and means local public services and organisations can’t be brought to account.  In some cases, this is where community Facebook pages have plugged the gap.

The Pandemic further damaged newspaper and magazine sales when the lockdown shut high streets and transport hubs and kept the nation at home, which saw print sales slump by as much as 39%.

Changing ways in which people access news means many people have simply got out of the habit of buying a daily newspaper, preferring the immediacy of accessing digital news channels online. A recent survey in the US showed that Americans overwhelmingly prefer their news to be digital – with 65% of those surveyed saying they rarely or never get their news from print.  

It is reassuring, however to see that sales of magazines, for example special interest or glossy magazines, are still holding up here in the UK.  The home and food genres performed well in general, with publications such as Garden Answers growing by 35% and BBC Gardeners’ World by 31% - possibly driven by the lockdown and the fact that we were spending more time at home and in our gardens.

So what does this mean for our b2b clients in the construction and manufacturing sectors?

b2b magazines have suffered a tough time too.  Some publications temporarily stopped publishing their print versions during the lockdown and diverted their efforts into online only, via e-newsletters and accessible online flip-books.  Publications like Professional Engineering largely retained their circulations due to the fact that they have a readership made up of iMeche members, with publications usually sent directly to people’s homes.

In Autumn last year, the majority of the construction titles we work with had resumed printing their titles and it has been great to be able to plan in thought leadership and topical advice articles for clients for this year.

Many magazines, such as Construction News and Building, have kept their content free on their websites, but there’s a question over how long this will continue.  Newspapers, such as the Daily Telegraph and the Sun, put up paywalls for their online content back in 2013 and others, such as the Guardian, encourage readers to subscribe to online content through single, monthly or annual subscription.

In our region, publications such as Insider Yorkshire have also introduced paywalls offering 1, 2 and 3 year subscription rates, which is completely understandable.  The Yorkshire Post, one of the nation’s greatest regional newspapers, still allows its content to be accessed without a paywall, though it does offer readers the options to support them and their journalistic integrity by subscribing, at reasonable rates.  Here in Sheffield, the Star provides limited access (5 articles per week) if you subscribe to their content with your email contact details, but any more than this, needs to be part of a paid subscription.  Again this makes sense as we need to keep quality local newspapers like this in business.

So what does the future hold?  Will more newspapers and magazines follow suit and introduce subscriptions and firewalls, preventing readers from accessing content easily?  As PR professionals, we now subscribe the most relevant national and regional publications, so we can ensure we access content we have created for our clients.

As ever, relationships with individual journalists are vitally important. 

Magazines and newspapers do need to recover costs and if their print versions aren’t been bought in great numbers then it’s no surprise they are putting up paywalls online.  It is often easier to read content on your phone whilst out and about, waiting for a train or before a client meeting, as it is instantaneous rather than waiting till you’re back to the office to pick up a newspaper or magazine.  What better way to keep up with what coverage we have for clients?

Whatever way it goes, print of digital, what is true is that people have an insatiable appetite for news.  Never has good content creation been more important – and it’s here that a quality b2b PR agency, like Dragonfly PR, is essential.

Dragonfly PR is a South Yorkshire PR agency specialising in business-to-business PR and digital marketing.  Our client base includes a wide range of construction and manufacturing companies, our team has extensive experience in media relations and digital marketing on a UK and international basis.  For more details or a chat with our team email or call 0114 349 5341.

Dragonfly PR is a Sheffield-based PR and digital marketing agency that specialises in media relations, content marketing and organic SEO for construction and manufacturing companies.

Call us on: 0114 349 5341