“Print media is on the decline, you just need to deal with it??? says independent.co.uk

Last Month I attended a ‘Gorkana meets…’ event held at the The Brewery. The beautiful site of the old Whitbread brewery in East London has enough history to discuss in itself, but the focus was purely business. After a bit of networking and breakfast from the vast array of healthy treats, we sat down to discuss more pressing issues…the death of print newspapers.
Zach Leonard, managing director of digital at the Independent and ES, described papers as being in a “terminal decline???. This statement, it is safe to say, set the tone for the discussion early on.
Terminal decline is exactly how it sounds, at some point, in the not too distance future, papers will not exist. As heartbreaking as this sounds, what can be done about it? I myself dread to think of the days without being able to pick up a paper, but when I ask the question of whether I actively buy a paper each day, then I am afraid the answer is no. I review the papers on a daily basis for work purposes, but on a personal level, like many others, I use online platforms. Social media and online news feeds have paved the way for the death of the paper.
With this in mind, the discussion with Christian Broughton, Digital Editor, Zach Leonard, Managing Director of Digital and Amol Rajan, Ediot of independentvoices.co.uk inevitably focused around emerging digital platforms and how PRs can utilise them.
Independent.co.uk has undertaken a transition to ensure it remains at the forefront of online news and discussion.
i+ is the interactive app that allows readers to give their opinions on the articles, linking directly back to the newsroom. This has been further expanded with the new ‘Blippar’, augmented reality advertising app, that encourages print readers to scan the article to link to live updates, actively encouraging readers from print to online, the real time updates on linked articles give readers the most up to date news.
In the last six months the Independent.co.uk has seen a significant shift in what people read online, with more consumers now reading product reviews and opinion from the writers they trust. As such, the success of articles are no longer measured on number of views, the focus is on reader engagement.
Amol Rajan, editor of Independent Voices, praised online platforms for overcoming the boundaries of print media. Independent Voices launched in September and provides a platform for commentary on  current issues. Voices allows the Independent.co.uk to get more from comment journalism, the site within a site gives a lighter touch to stories, without copy restrictions or limited space. Regularly updated and monitored Voices gives the most up to date news, a new twist.
Chris Blackhurst, editor of Independent.co.uk, further emphasised the influence of social media commentary on stories. It is no coincidence that two of the newest commentators writing for Independent.co.uk are key social media influencers. Social media feeds form a large part of the reach of the Independent.co.uk and will continue to drive stories further. Independent.co.uk uses hashtags actively in their stories to allow the interaction with readers to continue.
All three hosts agree “print media is on the decline, you just need to deal with it???. Independent.co.uk is certainly finding new innovative ways to bring the news to us. The constant transition of online news is ensuring the Independent remains dominant within the industry.
So the question is; how can  PR’s ensure we make the most of these online comment opportunities?
I have complied a list of the top tips from the discussion;

        1. Suggest NEW campaigns
        2. Provide short, sharp comments (500 words) driven by news
        3. Tailor the pitch to specific journalist (sorry to be so obvious!)
        4. Pitch using one or two lines only
        5. Always email pitches (they WILL be read)
        6. Images & video are key to the online content

Online is no longer second best to print. Independent.co.uk peaked last month with 4.5 millions hits (Wednesday 8th May). With so many opportunities for clients to get that all important brand mention, now is the time to utilise these changes in articles and features. There are even more feature opportunities with the increase in online traffic, make the most of these and get to know the opportunities.