A cruel reminder of the power of print

News brands have absolute dedication to tackling difficult issues and making them resonate with their audiences, says Zoe Harris, the group marketing director at Trinity Mirror.

Zoe Harris: the group marketing director at Trinity Mirror
Zoe Harris: the group marketing director at Trinity Mirror

I don't really blame the media industry for its obsession with new digital toys to play with, or big shiny telly spots.

Relative to the Mirror, founded in 1903 there are some newer digital kids on the block, while for profile and huge multimillion pound budgets, there isn’t much that comes near TV.

As a news brandmarketer with an audience that continues to grow, I can tell you Trinity Mirror Solutions, our commercial team, cast envious eyes at TV, as its continued revenue growth defies its declining audience.

Despite that, it's important that advertisers and media buyers are reminded of the unique power of print, hence the launch of Newsworks’ £3m campaign last week.

But nothing resonates like the truth, and it's ironic that this campaign should launch in a week where the gravitas of news brands, the reach and impact of print, and the emotive resonance of a powerful image was brought home so dramatically.

I am of course talking about the heart-breaking image of a three-year-old boy, washed up on a deserted beach in Turkey, being carefully carried out of the sea by an official.

When that image came into Fleet Street's picture desks, I can tell you those newsrooms would have come to a complete standstill.

Instantly, the editors would have realised they had a huge responsibility to make a difficult call, mindful of the distress and offence that using such an image could cause.

They immediately knew that given the relationship they had with their readers, and the fundamental values of their brand, this was an opportunity to enable Britain to see refugees in a different light.

And with that one image, used with impact on their front pages, the debate turned.

Front page images, circulating on Twitter, led the evening TV news bulletins, and our combined editorial argument – that this is a humanitarian refugee crisis that we all have a responsibility to help, rather than a migrant swarm that has to be kept out – came though.

With that one front page, the collective conscience of the nation was pricked, as Britain found its voice, demanded to be listened to, and refused to be ignored.

Print led the way, and I can tell you this month has been a powerful reminder of the privilege that those of working us in Fleet Street have, working on brands that have a genuine purpose at their heart.

Which brings me back to the Newsworks message.

There's a lot written about in marketing press about brand authenticity, conviction brands and brand integrity: conscientious consumerism.

The last I research I read, from Cohn and Wolfe, suggested that 63 per cent of consumers claim a purchase preference for brands that are authentic.

God knows brand authenticity is hard. And I admire those who manage to find a brand truth in a can of beer, box of washing powder or bar of chocolate.

News does indeed work. It is the only remaining truly solus media that readers have an involved rapport with, which is trusted to keep them abreast of the things that they need to know.

That direct relationship that newsbrands have with their readers enables them to move people to laughter, to anger and, on occasion, to tears.

And as this week has shown, in tragic circumstances, news brands’ absolute dedication to tackling difficult issues and making them resonate with their audiences with sensitivity, expertise and gravitas, demonstrates authenticity and consumer engagement above and beyond any other category.

Zoe Harris is the group marketing director at Trinity Mirror

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