PR expert thoughts: The New Day, a media mayfly

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Nothing says intent like a national television campaign, interviews placed in daily broadsheets, and a launch day fanfare involving 2million free samples. Nothing says misfire like closing a business two months after setting it up.

It’s with some sadness that we read news this morning suggesting that The New Day- the national newspaper set up by Trinity Mirror earlier this year- would circulate its final issue this Friday. Some reports suggest that running costs would immediately have equated to a £1million loss per year. Others claim that, after the first edition, sales plummeted to just 30,000 per day, wildly missing the much-touted target of 200,000.

Whether either of those statements are true is irrelevant. Something clearly went very wrong indeed. We analysed the content in depth not so long ago, so won’t repeat the same process (take a look here if you’re interested), but fundamentally speaking the publication could be described as follows:

*A daily newspaper that had no political allegiance

*Stories were written with a focus on positivity

*Contrasting opinions were offered, often from two different writers, on the same subject

Clearly a different model to the traditional, the overall idea was to appeal to a demographic that had fallen out of love with newspapers, but still wanted to stay informed. The writing was good quality, and the team behind it experienced. Which raises one question- was the problem simply the fact that nobody reads papers anymore?

This predicament certainly has a lot to answer for. 2016 has already seen Britain kiss goodbye The Independent in print, and we’re bored of blogging about the downward trajectory of print circulation figures. Put simply, then, if you’re looking at launching a new product in any marketplace, you’ll struggle to find any more difficult to make work than a newspaper.

It raises a curious point, though. Whilst we can secure clients coverage with incredible reach from the biggest online outlets, for many the perception of print is still higher- people consider being featured in a physical print issue as more of an achievement than the digital equivalent, irrespective of which is actually going to gain the most attention.

The situation continues through to advertising, too, albeit in reverse. The cost of buying space within high profile print titles is so prohibitive only the biggest budgets can invest enough to make any real impact. Comparatively, paying to get a brand on a webpage, even if that’s the landing address for a major site, is priced lower in real terms.

On the one hand, we can monitor the behaviour of people who click on a web advert and see if they convert into a customer. But this only lasts as long as they stay online. We don’t know what happens once they stop their browsing session, or wake up the next day. It’s the same principle as in print- an individual might see an advert but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have time to go in store and buy it right then and there.

The decline of print shows no sign of stopping, but perhaps what’s most worrying is that online readership is also stagnating in some ways. At the younger end of society people are logging on to trusted news sources less than ever before, and if this trend develops and gains momentum what limited income is coming in from online ads to fund editorial at the moment is only going to reduce even further. The point being that without a very new revenue model, the media’s difficult day, that has now turned into a difficult decade or more, could last a whole lot longer.