Never let a good crisis go to waste…

Never let a good crisis go to waste…

…as Winston Churchill famously said when Europe approached the end of World War ll.

a blog by Angela Mills Wade, EPC Executive Director

The COVID-19 crisis is not a war, but it has affected us all. When it comes to media and news media publishers in particular, the full effects of economic and structural damage have yet to be seen, although some changes were well underway before the pandemic struck. As is often the case, a crisis serves to amplify underlying trends which for EPC members have been both negative and positive. Ad revenues fell sharply as advertisers cut budgets putting tremendous strain on newsrooms. In some MSs print production was halted or severely interrupted, which in particular negatively impacted the availability of local news. On the positive side, with trust in news media on the up, readership online increased a lot, and digital subscriptions have risen exponentially. Ad spend will no doubt return as brands seek to reactivate sales, and publishers want to benefit when this happens as ad revenues remain an important source for investment in journalism.

On the basis that strategic review should not only be reserved for times of trouble EPC members were fortunately ahead of the game. In tandem with our policy work, we had agreed earlier this year to be more proactive on the advertising front, to exchange best practice around publisher-first strategies, and to challenge the ‘norm’ of continued platform dominance of ad revenues.

Ironically during our first, well-attended face to face meeting in Brussels on 10th March we saw our members get their company travel bans one by one, falling like dominos to the inevitability of a new-normal under lockdown. Then and there we agreed to ride the wave of enthusiasm of our members to continue working through various virtual teams. Maybe because people are not rushing around so much it’s been one of the most successful EPC initiatives ever. Through fortnightly virtual meetings, our groups have been able to take a deep dive into some of the most challenging areas in advertising, attracting interesting guest presenters and proving that while change to our daily lives has persisted, life and business under lockdown must go on, never wasting a good crisis!

For some recent updates on the policy work of the European Publishers Council, follow this link to our website.