The other week I read an article that didn’t surprise me.
Print advertising in newspapers was down 30% over the past six months, but ad revenues are down on newspaper websites too. (More here)
On the one hand, people are buying less newspapers – I can’t remember the last time I bought a physical newspaper, but on the other, people are also consuming news digitally. Yet, this consumption of digital isn’t leading to higher revenues.
For the old media, represented most by the national newspapers, I think the problem is that they have become mouthpieces of either vested interests or are staffed by people who have no conception of a world outside of London’s Islington, Kensington, Clapham and Shoreditch.
I lived in London for 15 years and I still think it is a great city, but there are loads of brilliant things going on elsewhere.
When I moved back to my home city of Liverpool a year ago, I was struck by how much energy and vibrancy there is here and how people are giving a collective FU to the London-based national media and just getting on with being great.
There are loads of fantastic businesses here, being creative, being bold, being strategic and taking risks. But too often, the national media sneer at them or just ignore them.
Take Nisha Katona, the founder of the superb Mowgli on Bold Street (and now in Manchester too). This former barrister has created an Indian street food restaurant that is loved in Liverpool and I’m sure will be in Manchester too.
Check out Mowgli’s Facebook page. Nisha has just written a book, Pimp my Rice, and has had a two-page spread in the Independent newspaper on how to cook rice. She is justifiably proud of this.
But as she wrote on FB: “I will tell you why this 2 page spread on Pimp, in the Independent, is a big deal. It’s an encouraging moment not just for me. For a national broadsheet to even countenance publishing an article on a Liverpool local author with no pedigree, no big PR machine, no major TV profile, gives hope to anyone thinking of taking a risk and writing a book. My experience thus far has seen national broadsheet Crackens awake usually, to sneer and slate our northern, outside of Shoreditch attempts, by way of ‘critique’ or caustic one liner.”
While people are still reading national newspapers in print and digital form, possibly the advertisers are starting to realise that their brands are being negatively tainted by this sneering attitude to their customers and where they live. I think brands increasingly want positive associations, and the national press are uniformly negative.
In fact, it is now better to organise your own event for face-to-face comms, set up a digital communications strategy, and maybe then consider traditional PR as the least important bit.
With other communication methods out there that don’t involve them (the sort that we are experts in!), will the national press be able to change?