News & Opinion

How newsbrands are embracing innovation across platforms

 Following Shift North 2017, Newsworks' Jessie Sampson draws on sessions with Cat Wildman, Sophie Tighe and Nik Wheatley to outline some of the ways newsbrands' are continuing to evolve across all platforms.

It's been five years since Newsworks renamed newspapers newsbrands, as part of a drive to reflect and promote publishers' evolution into multi-platform, dynamic news organisations. There are some who have questioned the point of changing the language – claiming that doing so negates the hundreds of years of Fleet Street history which newspapers are built on – yet by and large the new lexicon has been embraced by the industry as an appropriate and accurate development.

At Newsworks' Manchester conference Shift North last month, the working reality of newsbrands as diverse and innovative businesses was really bought home. Giving an insight into the spectrum of platforms that The Telegraph exists across, director of product Cat Wildman said that it publishes 225 articles a day on average: "All appear on the live app and on Apple News and all are tweeted. We do 100 post on Facebook, 10 Facebook videos, 14 snaps for Snapchat, six posts on Instagram plus one daily Instagram story, three posts on LinkedIn, up to 10 notifications across the live app and Apple News, two newsletters, a full edition app, two podcasts and a 32 page newspaper, every single day."

The breadth of this portfolio allows The Telegraph to reach new audiences and has led it to adapt its story-telling techniques to suit different contexts. As Cat put it, the brand now considers questions such as "what does the voice of The Telegraph sound like?", while still ensuring that it "stays true to our journalistic values across all the platforms that we are on".


The result is that people can now consume the title where they want and how they want – whether that's via podcasts or email bulletins – and the publisher can create engaged relationships with more and varied audiences as a result. For example, who knew that The Telegraph is reaching 11 to 18 year olds via its revision app Gojimo?

Also speaking at the event, The Sun's Snapchat editor Sophie Tighe showed how her team are using the social media platform to reinvent The Sun brand for a younger generation. While there is sometimes cross over with the showbiz content that is featured in the newspaper, Sophie gave an insight into the sort of stories that are specifically catering for the Snapchat cohort – from Love Island gossip to answering young people's questions during the recent general election and encouraging them to go and vote.

Listening to these talks gives credence to the newspaper/newsbrand rebrand. Newsbrand isn't platform reductive but allows for the diverse and innovative ways that publishers are catering to their readers. Whether it's the Guardian's VR projects – the latest of which reflects how people with autism feel in a busy environment – or ESI Media's roster of events, from London Food Month to House of ESI, newsbrands are utilising what they have at their disposal to truly embrace digital, experiment with form and create reader experiences which fit into the fabric of our daily lives.

As one Shift North delegate put it, The Story Labs' Nik Wheatley, digital is "no longer seen as though it's killing [newsbrands'] business model, so much as it's opening up a whole new world of possibilities. For us as planners, I think it was an eye-opener. There's so much more we can be doing. Drop the lazy stereotypes about customers, drop the lazy stereotypes about print brands. What are we talking about print brands for? They're not print brands, their bloody newbrands!"

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.  

This piece was first publisher by INMA

Newsbrands are utilising what they have at their disposal to truly embrace digital, experiment with form and create reader experiences which fit into the fabric of our daily lives

Jessie Sampson, communications manager, Newsworks
by Jessie Sampson 03/11/17

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