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How news brands are embracing innovation across platforms

By Jessie Sampson


London, United Kingdom

It’s been five years since Newsworks renamed newspapers as “news brands,” which was part of a drive to reflect and promote publishers’ evolution into multi-platform, dynamic news organisations.

There are some people who have questioned the point of changing the language, claiming that doing so negates the hundreds of years of Fleet Street history that 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 earlier this month, the working reality of news brands as diverse and innovative businesses was really brought home. Giving an insight into the spectrum of platforms across with The Telegraph exists, director of product Cat Wildman said 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 posts 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 storytelling techniques to suit different contexts. As Wildman put it, the brand now considers questions such as, “What does the voice of The Telegraph sound like?” while still ensuring 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 via podcasts or e-mail bulletins — and the publisher can create engaged relationships with more and varied audiences as a result. For example, who knew 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 members are using the social media platform to reinvent The Sun brand for a younger generation.

While there is sometimes crossover with the showbiz content that is featured in the newspaper, Tighe gave an insight into the sort of stories 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/news brand rebrand. “News brand” isn’t platform reductive but allows for the diverse and innovative ways publishers are catering to their readers.

Whether it’s the Guardian’s Virtual Reality 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, news brands are utilising what they have at their disposal to truly embrace digital, experiment with form, and create reader experiences that fit into the fabric of our daily lives.

London Food Month integrated content across a number of platforms.
London Food Month integrated content across a number of platforms.

As one Shift North delegate, The Story Labs’ Nik Wheatley, put it: Digital is “no longer seen as though it’s killing [news brands’] 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, they’re bloody news brands!”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

About Jessie Sampson

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