As media companies around the world look for ways to manage operations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, NWZ Mediengruppe in Germany has enacted many changes to deal with the crisis. Utilising digital options is key in this plan, and we are continuously updating our strategy to meet customer needs.
We are fortunate in that we introduced a flat rate for all our products in January. This means all our customers can be reached digitally, and we have less to worry about if delivery of our print edition fails.
Last year, we launched our news app and this has now become one of our most important channels. About a week ago we started the Corona-Liveticker, which has immense access numbers as readers follow the progress and spread of this condition. Our coronavirus articles have nearly 3 million hits.
At this time, the biggest problem is the performance of our systems. Our live blog is behind the metered paywall and linked articles are behind the hard paywall, so our subscription sales in the online-only area are increasing rapidly.
In response to this, we are using the coronavirus as an opportunity for digitalisation and new customer acquisition. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have already gained 600 new online-only subscribers.
Asking ethical questions in a pandemic
One of the things we are having a discussion about is ethics when it comes to our readers. One big question is how to put information behind a paywall in these exceptional circumstances. But our answer is to look at the supermarkets: Customers have to pay for the noodles, too.
At the beginning of this week, as a way to help ease some of the financial burdens for our customers, we launched a company-wide campaign called “Strong Together.” With this campaign, we actively address our customers to provide them with products and services under the umbrella of this campaign label. It doesn’t matter if these customers are print, digital, or cross-media; as part of this effort, we grant our customers a particularly high discount of up to 75%.
This campaign provides the editorial staff with a place to publish such important (and changing) information as where to get neighbourhood help, new delivery services of restaurants, services of shops, or even the accessibility of our retailers.
We also decided to stop the production of our weekly newspapers for one month. We want to ensure the production capability of our printing house, and that means concentrating on the main product. This creates less work for things like our weekly newspapers, Sunday newspapers, etc. But even as we make these changes, we are using this time to create new solutions. For example, this week we are launching a portal called Nordwest-Prospekte and digitalising all our advertising supplements there.
We are facing the challenges of the coronavirus as they occur, and we are already considering how this reduces the amount of work in other areas, such as our B2B area and our advertising department.
From now on we must remain creative every day to take advantage of the positive sides in the crisis. Right now, the greatest positive is the increased hunger for reliable sources of information — which we are able to provide.