Love it or loath it, just don’t ignore it! Smoking Gun dissects the national newsbrand that splits opinion more than any other
It doesn’t matter which wing your politics falls into, what side of the fence you prefer to stand on, or how you like your eggs in the morning (incidentally mine’s with a kiss) the idea of genuine editorial neutrality in the UK is a myth, and has been since the birth of news as business.
There are agendas right, left and centre. No pun intended. Readerships, after all, are how marketing priorities are set, whether that’s inclusion in a feature article or a full page ad.
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If there’s one publication that’s seen as more divisive than any other, then it’s safe to say it must be the Daily Mail. Regularly seen to be courting— and indeed nurturing— controversial opinions, and opting to be selective with its facts. Not least when it comes to issues such as immigration and benefit misuse, hence the Stop Funding Hate Campaign, which puts pressure on advertisers to cancel campaigns from the title, the most recent example being. A Paperchase discount offer Being pulled from the front page
Considering that environment, the recent announcement that Katie Hopkins has parted ways with the brand, one of the most notorious columnists in the English-speaking world, is therefore surprising.
From a professional perspective, of course, the title is invaluable. Mail Online remains the biggest news website in terms of audience in the English-speaking world, attracting 14.7million unique browser visits every 24 hours in Britain alone, while the print edition pulls in a circulation just below 1.4million a day. Of this, a small majority are ABC1 category— shorthand for the demographic with the most free cash to splash.
None of which is to say there aren’t bigger outlets. Metro, the free-to-pick-up newsstand giant available in major cities, surpassed the Mail’s size, boasting 1.47million circulation by Spring 2017, just 30,000 off the UK’s top seller, The Sun. But what makes the Mail standout is its influence and ability to affect our votes, purchasing decisions, and overall outlook on life.
In 2012, the New Yorker described the paper as a ‘middle class juggernaut that can slay knights and sway prime ministers.’ A point well made. Politics aside, the impact of what appears in the Mail extends to purchasing decisions, too.
My staff have shown without question just how much great coverage with the title can help clients. We scored a top hit for an FMCG product on a mother’s discovery that the company’s cream had cured eczema; the product immediately sold out across the country after the story appeared, and remained out of stock for weeks. Meanwhile, when Julian Charles appeared in its pages more recently, Black Friday sales generated enough revenue to pay Smoking Gun’s agency fee for six months.
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And The Mail has held this position of power since its inception, on 4th May 1896. Launched to engage with a market that didn’t have sufficient leisure time to dissect the complexity of reports in the longer, more highbrow Times of London, in the century or so between then and now the Mail has consistently embraced technological changes in a way that surpasses every other title, emphasising speed over depth to ensure it regularly gets the story first.
This scores points with readers, who want to know what’s happening ASAP, and in turn they have grown to trust what’s said in the paper’s pages.
When something has this much impact on society and sales, it’s impossible to criticise from the perspective of a business reliant on securing the widest coverage possible, either from an agency point of view or that of the companies vying for inclusion in the content.
So while your personal thoughts may sit differently, you can’t afford not to embrace, work with, and capitalise on this behemoth as much as possible in order to keep up with the pack. Ignore my advice at your peril.
To find out more about what we can do with a great brand and the UK’s national press, why not email [email protected]
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