Whether standing up for the voiceless, pushing for positive change or communicating important public messaging, news brands continue to demonstrate their power to positively impact society. Three panels at Festival of News explored this power across a host of editorial and commercial initiatives
Commissioned by the UK Government to communicate both broad and nuanced messages around the pandemic, ‘All Together’ was the largest news media sponsored content campaign in UK history.
In the session ‘All Together – Collaboration Throughout Covid’, Newsworks chief executive Jo Allan and Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Downing Street Chief of Staff, discussed the success of this ground-breaking campaign.
“It was definitely a can-do approach”, said Allan. “We’d never worked in this way before — the traditional lines of competition had to be put to one side.” Each news brand worked on the same brief, each producing content in a way that would authentically engage their readers.
“Agility was at the core of this. I don’t think any other media could have done this as fast we did. We had to deal with things changing all the time,” she added.
Barclay said that once the issues with the pandemic were understood, the key challenge was reaching everyone in the right way. “We had to look at how we reach people that don’t usually trust government,” said Barclay. “It had to be much more personalised, much more ‘place-based’.”
Allan concluded the sessions saying that learnings have been taken on board and processes are in place. “The news industry is all set for the next big campaign,” she affirmed.
Big campaigns were the talk of the session looking at news brands’ consistent record of campaigning for positive change.
In ‘Campaigning for good, campaigning for change’, the Daily Mail’s recent Ukraine campaign was highlighted as a great example of uniting readers behind an important cause: “We launched our campaign on the Sunday and by Tuesday we had raised £1 million,” said Sam Greenhill, chief reporter at the Daily Mail.
With news brand campaigns’ powerful reach and trust from their readers, this force for good is something that advertisers can get involved with. The Express’s Chris Riches commented: “When we started our green campaign, lots of companies came to us saying they wanted to tell the stories of the things they were doing.”
“It was amazingly satisfying to see the changes that came about because of the Guardian’s reporting of Windrush,” said The Guardian’s reporter Amelia Gentleman. “There are moments as a journalist where you can see that the dial has been pushed as a result of campaigning.”
Pushing the dial has been the goal of many of the news brands when it comes to raising the profile of women’s sport.
In ‘Sport: the power to change the world’, Anna Kessel, women’s sports editor at The Telegraph, told delegates that the news brand’s women’s sports section has gone from strength to strength, pulling in more readers and pushing the boundaries for female sport since its launch three years ago. But Kessel was clear about the challenge: “Women’s sport is about a century behind men’s due to oppression and bans.”
“What needs to happen is for women to be on the front page of the sports sections and to dominate the headlines,” she added. “Women’s sports journalism has to work a lot harder.” She said that covering women’s sport is not just the right thing to do, but there are real business benefits for advertisers looking to target women.
Darren Lewis, assistant editor at the Daily Mirror, agreed, but said: “Some advertisers have focused on women’s football in terms of girl power, but the audience for women’s football is far greater than that, so advertisers are missing a trick.”