The media landscape across Europe changed dramatically in 2020 as a result of Covid-19. Perhaps that sounds like an understatement: almost every industry in every market has been massively affected by the pandemic.
But as a PR company, changes to the media industry affect us significantly. Every day, we work with journalists and publications to source top tier media coverage for our clients. As such, we have first-hand knowledge of how the industry has evolved this past year.
So, what have we spotted in 2020? As a PR agency without borders, we’ve kept a close eye on the changes in each of the markets we operate in and have spotted similar trends cropping up across Europe.
In particular, Covid-19 has significantly impacted the revenues of media organisations. As advertising spend declined, newspapers and magazines had to completely reassess their budgets. In many cases, editorial teams have shrunk, and several journalists have lost their jobs. I can personally attest to this — at the start of 2020, I was a journalist working for one of London’s top business newspapers, but was let go as the company could no longer afford to return to print.
As for the journalists who have kept on working, they are busier than ever. This, combined with the need for remote working, has made it even more difficult to get hold of journalists and pitch to them. Away from their phones in the office, most journalists are now only contactable by email.
What’s more, of course, coronavirus has dominated news coverage. In fact, in several markets, at times it’s been impossible to pitch stories that were unrelated to the pandemic. More recently, this stance has thankfully softened, and publications are now accepting a wider range of pitches (partly because journalists and their audience are tired of talking about nothing except Covid, especially now that effective vaccines are starting to be distributed).
It has not been all bad news for media organisations in 2020, however. Some have been able to leverage the pandemic to build their audience, as readers sought clear and trustworthy knowledge to help them understand Covid-19. For instance, British news group The Guardian revealed in December that it now has more than one million paying subscribers and regular contributors.
Other titles have been much less fortunate. The pandemic has meant that they have been unable to publish a physical product, instead having to shift and focus on their digital offering in a highly competitive space. Others have seen their revenue fall to the point that they simply could not continue operating. For example, very sadly, stalwart trade title Essential Retail went on hiatus in November.
Of course, within these broad trends there is nuance, and our expert PR consultants can offer insight on their individual markets. This piece will therefore be the first in a series of articles examining how the media landscape has shifted within the key European markets of the UK, France and Germany. Do keep an eye out for the next instalment, which will shine a spotlight on the most significant changes within the UK media landscape.
Photo credit (c) Alex Motoc, Unsplash.com