Online news has never been more important

Move to digital news

We are all living through hugely challenging times and in some ways it seems slightly trivial to discuss the issues faced by our businesses and the trenchless sector.  That said, we will emerge from this crisis and there will continue to be a demand for highly sustainable infrastructure across the globe.  It’s therefore vitally important that we do what we can to maintain brand awareness and position our businesses to leverage this opportunity when then time comes.

The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in many of the marketing and communication channels which are normally available to us to promote our businesses. Fortunately, however there is no need to ‘social distance’ online.

Of course, the move to digital news consumption is nothing new.  Figures from OFCOM published last year showed that over two thirds of adults now use the internet to access news whilst TV, Radio and newspaper audiences all declined.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media demonstrated the biggest increase in news consumption with 49% of adults now accessing it through these channels.

There is also no doubt that this trend has been accelerated by the recent changes to our lifestyles and our use of digital and social media is set to become increasingly important over the coming weeks and months.  Virgin media recently reported that internet usage has almost doubled since the UK went into ‘lockdown’.  Whilst I’m not for one minute suggesting that this spike is down to us all accessing our excellent sector media, this increased digital engagement is certainly being reflected in their online readership figures.  No-Dig Live alone has seen a 50% increase in traffic in recent weeks.  It’s not just the uplift in traffic that’s interesting. We are also changing when we engage with these media. This is reflected in a significant increase in weekend traffic for example. Whilst this could be due to a shortage of new Netflix material, it is more likely down to highly flexible work routines with more of us working from home.

Recent events have shown UK and global trenchless operators to be highly resilient. This further underlines the vital role these businesses have to play in supporting economies and sustainable development around the world. This commitment to technical innovation and service excellence however has arguably not been fully reflected in positive media coverage.

Now more than ever, obtaining targeted coverage in key publications provides businesses with a highly cost-effective way to maintain brand awareness whilst potentially providing a valuable source of new business enquiries for their products and services.

This opportunity is not solely limited to online news. Our current high level of dependency on the internet means that it is also a great time to develop other forms of digital content such as social media, features, blogs, case studies and website copy. Content that is not used immediately can be ‘banked’ ready for use as we start to enter what’s likely to be a new kind of normal.

Targeted coverage in relevant publications or social media is something that’s available to all businesses irrespective of size.  It’s not however always cost effective for businesses having dedicated PR or communications resource inhouse.   In this instance it may be worthwhile speaking to a reputable agency to see how they can provide the expertise required on an economic basis.

Austen Lees is Managing Director of Sirius Communications a specialist PR & content agency working with UK and international customers to promote sustainable development.  For more information austen@siriuscomms.co.uk.

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