Five things we learnt: Campaigning Newspapers in a Digital Age

Wednesday 28th January


Last night News UK played fine hosts to Pagefield and London Press Club’s event ‘Campaigning Newspapers in a Digital Age’. A packed house saw Sarah Baxter (Sunday Times) chair a panel that comprised Tony Gallagher (Daily Mail), David Cohen (Evening Standard), Sharon Hendry (The Sun) and John Coventry ( discussing what makes a successful media campaign in a digital age.


To accommodate for even the busiest schedule, Pagefield has condensed the evening’s content into five main points.


1) Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

When suspicions start to creep in that no one is listening, keep going. Tony Gallagher said that it is often the case that you get bored of a campaign just when the audience is finally engaging. So very much like practicing for your piano grades, repetition is key. Social media can be a great tool for ensuring that a message keeps circulating.


2) Challenge your readership

Both Tony Gallagher and Sharon Hendry agreed that it is important to take your readership out of their comfort zone. Challenging your audience and being surprising can induce wider conversation, increase engagement and create great momentum for a cause.


3) Do the Twitter-bug

Campaigns of any stripe can benefit from good use of social media, although these platforms are clearly not without risk. Online campaigns are fertile ground for keyboard warriors, who revel in dealing out anonymous abuse to campaign figureheads. John Coventry emphasised the importance of distinguishing between a campaign’s online identity, and that of the individual campaigner. When it comes to political campaigns, the panel agreed with Mr Gallagher that politicians still don’t seem to get Twitter, where they often look like dads dancing.


4) Clicktivism works

John Coventry pointed out that whatever your views are on how effective clicktivism is in the long run, it’s great that there is potential for people to set the news agenda by going online and starting a campaign. While online ‘clicktivist’ campaigns can become difficult to manage, they can unite individuals all over the world who share similar concerns on an ongoing basis.


5) Good campaigns will remain at the heart of print journalism

The panel agreed that while campaigns may not sell copy, they should always remain part of any good paper’s DNA. David Cohen and Sharon Hendry both argued that great stories can be built around campaigns allowing a paper to connect with readers around a common cause. They agreed that a successful and meaningful campaign allows the readership to feel part of the story, with the newspaper itself acting as the vehicle that unites the readership to the cause.

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