Entering the newsbrand world

Sophie Bruce, Media Assistant and Will Pearson, Media Executive


After attending the Guardian Academy – a two-day event brimming with reputed speakers, masterclasses and real-life pitch scenarios – it’s only fair the post-event write-up stretches (or tries to stretch) our journalistic abilities.

In that vein, here’s our whistle-stop tour of a trip to King’s Place, using the foundation of all things editorial – the five W’s:


Wary Times

It’s no secret that – somewhat ironically – bad press has surrounded newsbrands in recent times, whether from an ethical editorial sense or from an advertising perspective, and uncertainty is high.

That was no clearer than the simple fact that ‘brand safety’ – quickly established as the buzzword for the week – was mentioned in all but three talks.

Adam Foley, Sales & Strategy Director at Guardian Labs, led the way by arguing fake news is the root, and is now advertising’s problem.

In short, brands by nature are cautious about digital ad placement – yet over-caution can result in an avoidance of big, breaking news stories. The reality is that, when read in context and not through keyword algorithms, stories most likely pose no threat – but brands’ nervousness means high-reach content is missed.




We were privileged enough to hear from Amelia Gentleman, who rose to prominence last year following her investigation into – and thereafter shocking release of – the Windrush Scandal.

Gentleman openly and honestly discussed trials and tribulations faced before, during and after the story broke, admitting that she remains in an ongoing fight for justice – even though it no longer makes the front page.

If anything, listening to her recount her story to date hugely re-enforced the lengths that reporters go to in order to force – in this case – political agendas, and highlighted how they invest themselves.


Why Newsbrands?

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a media event without a mild attempt at brain-washing the industry’s next generation…but it has to be admitted that this was done tastefully.

A broad panel – including Reach, the Telegraph, News UK and the Guardian – discussed a myriad of topics; the evolution of press, the impact of ‘fake news’ and the benefits to advertisers were all put in the spotlight.

Noticeably – despite the different newsbrands’ agenda’s present – the foundation of everyone’s views aligned.

Newspapers are trusted, embedded in media consumption and offer a believable (and brand safe) environment away from the ‘murky online landscape’. Yet there was unanimous recognition that the landscape has changed drastically; ‘online’ simply can’t be ignored or rebuffed if you want to capture a news-hungry audience.


What is the Big Issue Foundation?

That’s precisely what we were tasked in solving, as the Big Issue Foundation presented us with a live brief during day two of the Academy.

Wanting to raise awareness of the brand as separate to the Big Issue? No worries. 2020 campaign? Sure thing. National too? Excellent news. £10k, all-inclusive budget for media and creative? Right…

Whilst challenging for sure, the opportunity to clash heads with London-based agencies proved refreshing and highlighted just how individual approaches can be when devising media strategies.


(Non-alcoholic) Wine

Yes, you read that right. Non-alcoholic wine in our goodie bag. I think we’ll leave that there and run back up north, thanks London.