Nigeria has a high number of Internet users. And the arrival of big global players, such as CNN and BBC, mixed with bloggers, news aggregators, and digital media companies makes for an extremely competitive space, Abayomi said.
“You can imagine the fight for audience in social media — even within locally, not to talk about the entrance of global players,” Abayomi said.
Traditional newspapers and local media have to react as other players entered the market, but it is key that they do not get discouraged in the face of these challenges, Abayomi added.
“It was such a huge challenge, however you can’t throw your hands up in the air. You can’t lose your audience. The media space in Nigeria is so challenging. The legacy newspapers like ours who are on our own path, on our digital transition, we have to fast track our positions not just to compete in this market but to dominate.”
Abayomi shared how Punch has kept up its performance despite the challenges from big Internet players. This strategy has focused on staffing and specialisation, video, growing news audiences, and social media operations. Abayomi expanded on Punch’s staffing and video strategy, saying the company has transitioned from a traditional organisation to a digital leader.
Carefully evaluating staffing and employee skill sets have helped transform the newsroom. Bringing in journalists with a variety of new skills has enhanced the capabilities of Punch’s team and changed culture. Expanding digital ad operations has also been crucial. Digital publishing is a different game, Abayomi said: “You can’t work in this space if you still operate as a traditional newspaper organisation.”
Punch has deliberately aimed to grow its Millennial audience, and video has been a key part of that strategy. A lean multi-media strategy has been key to Punch’s digital transition, Abayomi said. The company has incorporated video into its daily news schedules, making it stand out amid competition. Live coverage of major events became something that is very unique to Punch.
“We’ve been able to churn out good content, do programming, do live coverage,” Abayomi said. “We’ve revamped the video unit to be able to compete with the global media presence that we have in our market.”
Punch has grown video production by 42% between 2018 and 2019. Video consumption occurs cross-platform, which helps the company grow its audience and reach them where they are. Some videos, such as a video about a husband who left his wife and children for having blue eyes, have gone viral.
Punch has built audience trust for more than 50 years. While the company is doing well, it aims to be even better, Abayomi said: “Our digital transition is on course as we continue to leverage on digital, mobile, and social media performance. Not just to stay ahead but to beat the competition whether local or foreign.”