Capital Markets Corporate

September 13, 2019

From paper to podcasts: challenges for communicating in a digital age


When is the last time you bought or read a print magazine? Maybe when you had a long train or plane journey, or maybe you flicked through one in a waiting room, or maybe you saw a free gift or deal that enticed you.

Just this week though, we witnessed another household name magazine – Marie Claire – announce they will stop producing their print magazine, becoming a digital-only publication. This comes against a backdrop of all women’s lifestyle print magazine circulations on decline year-on-year.

This trend is not new, but it has been gathering pace in recent years, and is not isolated to one sector.

Just this year, tech magazine CNET closed its print magazine in favour of a digital-only offering. Meanwhile, in the sports sector, ESPN announced earlier this year that it was also shutting down its print magazine.

In UK national media, The Times and Sunday Times digital descriptions overtook print subscriptions for the first time last year. Elsewhere, Apple is also making its mark as it recently launched News+, an “immersive magazine and news reading experience”.

So how are people consuming news and content?

Figures have shown that while 20% of young people aged 16-24 consume their news via print newspapers, four times the amount (83%) consume news via the Internet.

But this is not just a phenomenon for young people. According to Ofcom, social media is growing as a source of news for all adults in the UK – from 44% in 2018 to 49% adults in 2019. On top of this, social media is used more than any other source of news on the Internet.

Moreover, this is not just limited to consumer media. Collectively, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter drive 90% of social traffic to B2B news sites and blogs.

Podcasts are undoubtedly also on the rise – and the future of podcasts is looking bright. Earlier this year Spotify acquired podcast start-ups Gimlet and Anchor, and announced plans to spend £385 million more on further podcast acquisitions. Meanwhile DMG Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Daily Mail’s owner, just this week invested £2 million in interactive podcast start-up Entale.

As digital media becomes the most digested form of communications, a key thing to consider here is how people increasingly want to follow news on their own terms, as opposed to following linear news.

They want to curate their news consumption, following commentators, influencers, authors and public figures they know and trust and whose opinions they value – even if there are potential risks that they only view news aligned with their own opinions.

Communications challenges lie ahead

So, if in 20 years’ time, we asked people when they last bought or read a print magazine, the answer might be that they do not know or that there simply aren’t many to buy.

And, if social media is the conduit through which we are increasingly selecting and viewing our news and views, businesses must take a more proactive approach to driving traffic towards content they wish their clients and prospects to see.

Tailoring outreach across paid, earned, shared and owned media is now more important than ever. Amplifying content today is almost as significant as creating and placing the content in the first place.

Clearly this trend is only going one way. So, to successfully communicate your news and stories, companies should consider a whole range of media to get the message across. An increasingly joined up approach is indispensable in this new digital age of media.