The Independent – The beginning of the end…

The Independent – The beginning of the end…

…or as The Independent calls it ‘the end of an era’.

The 13th of February hailed ‘the new wave’ of digital only journalism. It was announced in an article online that The Independent will no longer have a print edition from the 20th March.

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Read the article.

The digital revolution has changed the face of public relations and it continues to evolve with new online inventions and trends. The creative industry has seen traditional journalism downscale and roles within newspapers change, diminish and come under enormous pressure.

With The Independents move to digital, others will follow.  Could this be the end of newspapers as we know it?

I want to think that it isn’t the end for newspapers. Look at the resurgence in traditional printed books after the wave of e-readers hit the market. The threat was real. Multiple books held in a conveniently compact tablet readily available wherever you go. It makes sense on so many levels.

For a long time it looked like the Kindle had killed off the print press in one swift digital punch.

However, a few years down the line, the market is saturated and there are people like me who still prefer to put the screen down and get involved in a real book. It’s a pleasant feeling to go fully offline and not succumb to the continuous draw of online content. I like books, I like the way they feel, the way they smell and the fact they don’t run out of battery! And, don’t even start me on the damage caused by screens to your eyes. I now wear glasses part-time. Anyway, as always, I digress. Book popularity has started to increase and it looks for now that the book stores have weathered the digital storm.

I hope that newspapers may have this same experience of a resurgence, but I think this may have to be tied in with some kind of content revolution.

Perhaps the best I can hope for is that by only being online the concept of the traditional journalist will endure? Hopefully online newspapers will have the resources to keep more journalists employed and the skills alive.

The cynic in me thinks that newspapers going online only will dilute the news market even further, the few remaining journalists will get lazy and the press release will be used as ‘cover-ready-copy’ without being stat checked or formed in to a real story. This sort of practice can already been seen, so it wouldn’t really be that much of a jump.

Unfortunately I think this is the next big change for newspapers and in a few years the next generation won’t have a clue what a newspaper is. They will laugh that we read things on paper and fetched the news daily from a shop. They will think us ridiculous as all they will know is that news is available at the touch of a button and you need not move a muscle to get it!

What makes me really sad though is the thought that in the future no one will derive joy on a Sunday from settling down with fresh coffee, breakfast and The Sunday Times and taking a long leisurely read of what’s going on in the world. Online reading just isn’t the same. I know all the same information is available online and I’m not against that existing too. But, for now, I’d like to keep things just the same with the option of both print and online.

I really do think that going solely online is the beginning of the end for newspapers. Now that The Independent has set the online precedent the others will follow.

I’d love to know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments section!

No more of this ‘New Year, New Me’ bollocks…

No more of this ‘New Year, New Me’ bollocks…

Thank god we made it through all that ‘New Year, New Me’ bollocks that was rammed down our throats across January. Sorry, but dry January, along with the temporary wave of new gym goers and people making resolutions that are not kept can do one.

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It’s time for a quick January 2016 catch up!

January was so much fun, it has gone by in a flash, probably through the haze of Birthday celebrations. One notable Birthday highlight was a rather decadent and frivolous afternoon tea at The Savoy. This then got extended to gin and tonic’s at the Beaufort Bar in all it’s 1920’s black and gold glamour. We then went around Kings Cross Station to the Alan Rickman tributes that have been left at Platform nine and three quarters. He was one of my favourite actors.

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Then, with our lovely warm gin jackets on, we staggered around the Lumiere art installations that were across London.

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I hope you had a cracking January too, I mean it wasn’t that bad, was it?

It has been a great month apart from a couple of major exceptions, the wonderfully talented icons we have lost.

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A tribute left to Alan Rickman at Kings Cross

Bowie. Rickman. Wogan. Cultural icons who will be sorely missed. The world will be a slightly darker place without them all.

I was lucky enough to meet Sir Terry Wogan once (I know what a name drop!) on the strangest college trip ever to the Terry and Gaby Show. He sat down on the step next to me, before he was introduced on stage, and engaged me in a brief chat which ended with him elbowing my arm, throwing me a wink and saying ‘There are worse jobs to have!’. He was warm, engaging and a true professional.

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The Telegraph’s moving tribute to Sir Terry Wogan

Each in their own way helped to shape modern media, music and film. Influencers in their field.

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PR is always talking about influencers. In fact it’s such a hot topic that the CIPR has sent a new magazine out at the end of January to its members called Influence.

The tag line is ‘For switched-on Public Relations Professionals’. It’s a great tag line, if not a little obvious. I mean everyone wants to be considered as ‘switched-on’ in the PR industry?!

Emblazened on the cover is the word ‘LISTEN’ followed by ’19 essentials to engage a message-swamped world’. Why 19?! Odd!

It’s targeting three key issues that are some of the biggest PR insecurities. Being able to influence, to listen and to effectively communicated.

I haven’t read it yet but I can’t wait to settle down with a coffee, welcome in February properly and get my PR geek on! Let’s hope it lives up to the hype!

I get knocked down, but I get up again! – PR, rugby and concussion.

I get knocked down, but I get up again! – PR, rugby and concussion.

Rugby’s recent hot topic was how George North’s concussion was dealt with, which resulted in concerns being raised about whether appropriate action was taken and its impact on Rugby Union’s reputation.

Paul Rees wrote an excellent article for the Guardian (12 February) that sums this up perfectly. He states that the future of the players and sport depends on action being taken to treat concussion with the importance it deserves.

You can Paul’s article here: ‘George North’s concussion damaged him and the image of rugby union’.

Image and reputation is inextricably linked with stakeholders, and therefore a damaged reputation can have seriously harmful repercussions.

If the Rugby Union is not properly looking after it’s key stakeholders, the players, by risking their health then it calls into question rugby’s credibility. Rugby’s image and reputation becomes damaged and this then loses other essential stakeholders – the fans and the funding.

When things go wrong mitigation is key and rugby’s swift action on concussion has limited the damage to the Union’s image and to the players.

George North’s case emphasised Rugby Union’s concussion protocol and it’s importance. But, there was considerable outrage with how it was dealt with and his welfare.

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George North was knocked out when Wales played England in the 2015 Six Nations Tournament

 

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George North sustained serious head injuries but was allowed to play on

After George North’s concussion debacle it was rumoured that players often pushed themselves back to playing before they were ready, in fear of losing their place on the team. Other comments circulated that coaches were the culprits making players return. The comments didn’t go away.

Given the nature of rugby, it wasn’t long until another high-profile case presented itself and after Mike Brown went out cold during the Valentines Day match against Italy, PR went in to overdrive from the England camp. It was the perfect opportunity to rescue rugby’s reputation from what happened mere weeks earlier with George North. It was time for communication.

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Mike Brown out cold after a clash when England played Italy in the 2015 Six Nations Tournament

Multiple news stories and updates were issued stipulating that Mike Brown is being protected by existing protocol and that he will not be returning until all symptoms are gone. Mitigation, through strategic PR communication, did its job and the concussion protocol fever has been sated for now. Here are some of the quotes that were released from the England camp…

BBC sport quoted England rugby’s coaches:

“This morning Mike woke up not feeling 100%. The right and proper thing to do was to make the call. His health is the main priority here and we need to get him right for the next game. The symptoms aren’t too severe whatsoever, just a little headache. He’s fine in himself and is chirpy enough, but it just isn’t worth the risk because his health comes first.” assistant coach Andy Farrell said.

 

England head coach Stuart Lancaster said the squad’s medical staff would continue to work with Brown to “get him back to full health”.

Although this is great news for Mike Brown’s welfare, this does mean that he will miss today’s Six Nation Ireland v England match, much to the disappointment of England rugby fans, Stuart Lancaster and the rest of the coaching team. But, in this instance, the risk is too big to chance. Everyone involved knows this and the right decision has been made. Well done Stuart. England 1 – 0 Wales.

Taking risks for reputation enhancement is not a new topic in PR and it is something I have written about before. Recently, the article I posted about Madonna at the 2015 Brit awards, talked about how far is too far in PR, using the example of Red Bull who risked a life for PR purposes. Like I said before, if the live jump from space had gone wrong then the damage to the brand would have been unprecedented. Instead it’s secured their place in the top brands of the world. Risk can equal big rewards.

However, rugby isn’t just a brand or a product, it’s bigger than that, it’s a part of our society. It’s children developing important skills, the Sunday run about with the lads, it’s the first trip to a major stadium, it’s the highs and lows of following your team. Big risk here won’t work.

It seems rugby is aware of its position, the risk and the potential damage, even if the George North situation was a reminder of why the rules and protocol are there. In this instance, strategic PR was used to manage the expectations of its stakeholders. It facilitated communication with its stakeholders by saying ‘how we dealt with that was wrong, but look, we’ve learnt from our mistake’. Crisis averted.