News & Blogs

Newsworks Conference


I was lucky enough to be invited to the Newsworks second annual conference ‘Shift 2014’ last week, held at the British Library, at which Mediabrands’ G14 CEO Jim Hytner was a key speaker.

The name of the event was well chosen, hinting at the changes that newspaper publishers are going through as they deliver journalism and advertising in ways that suit the changing needs of readers and marketers. ‘Influence’ was the theme of the event; the argument being that news brands have unique clout thanks to their content creation experts. Every day, they shape opinions -  directly or indirectly - with millions around the world, on subjects as varied as the election results or England’s chances of winning the World Cup.

First to speak was Jason Seiken, Chief Content Officer and Editor in-Chief at Telegraph Media Group. He spoke about the use of new platforms to make news more accessible to new audiences, transforming Telegraph Media into a ‘digital native news organisation’. He argued that the industry is going through a golden age of news and immersive media platforms. The need for news brands will never decline. Yes, it is increasing moving online, but the core value of newspapers will always ring true, even in the digital space.

The variety of online news sources is vast: Google, Facebook and Buzzfeed, to name a few. However, the need for quality, trusted news and opinion is still as true today as it ever was. Pessimists say that newspaper circulation numbers are down, of which some are. However, Telegraph Media can claim a 29% increase year-on-year across their platforms, involving a much younger audience. Now that’s a quality news story! In this new digital arena things are different to traditional print, so much so that Telegraph Media implement an ethos of ‘move fast and break things’ – in other words, it’s ok to fail because there is a need to continuously challenge and innovate.

Others spoke about the power of news brands, and the trust and identification they engender in readers. Did you know that total news brands reach more than TV? I didn’t. Nor did I know that when compared to any other platform, news brands are always rated the best source of news. And this trust is mirrored online. Consumers also feel that advertisers ‘brand rob’ the trust of these news brands, which is certainly of note.

Sir Martin Sorrell also attended and told stories about his background, growing up, and who he considers to be the most important people in media (excluding himself, of course). We have a lot of great role models in this industry, and we should learn from their bravery.

In discussions around which brands are getting it right, it was clear that John Lewis is a brand in sync with the times – and one that has doubled investment in news brands. The artwork in print was mirrored in store, and suppliers actually called and wanted to be part of these ads. News brands are, in fact, the backbone of John Lewis’ advertising strategy; it is the single biggest investment. TV is only used once or twice a year.

To round off the proceedings, three young media planners pitched their ideas to a panel of industry experts, in a Dragon’s Den-style competition. IPG Mediabrands’ Jim Hytner compared the session, keeping the energy high, and maintaining order. The winning idea came from Emma Callaghan from PHD, Emma pitched Expedia and the Philippines, which aims to use this platform to push Expedia’s CSR project to drive re-evaluation of the Philippines as a tourist destination, after the havoc caused by last year’s typhoon – based on the insight that people feel guilty enjoying themselves in a country that is suffering so much. Against some stiff competition from Mindshare/Warburton’s, and Vizeum/Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Emma was grilled by the judges but won the audience over to be voted overall winner and will now get to activate her campaign idea. Look out for the activity on 22nd July!

It was a great event, I would definitely recommend going. I came away with a huge amount of insight into how we can use news brands in really creative and innovative ways to add value to our clients’ business.  I hope to see some of you there next year – and now onto putting some of those ideas into practice..