The Mirror's troubles are a wake-up call - PRs take note



It’s always hard to read a news report about struggling UK news outlets.

Last week, Jane Martinson’s piece in The Guardian examined the Mirror’s precarious position following Alison Phillips’ departure, and it struck a personal chord.

As we enter an election year, it feels even more poignant to read of the plight of the UK’s oldest left-wing tabloid.

If The Mirror were to fold, it’d mean a significant loss of diversity in the UK media scene. Each paper in the UK gives voice to different communities, and the Mirror is no different – rarer, in fact, due to its left-leaning stance. Let’s not forget, it was its breaking of the Partygate scandal, by Pippa Crerar and the investigative team, which led to the downfall of some major government players.

Historically backing Labour, I hope the general election might galvanise its readership and give it a much-needed boost.

Most importantly, on a personal level, the uncertainty of the current media landscape makes this a hugely worrying time for many of our friends and contacts, particularly at Mirror publisher Reach. It’s impossible not to sympathise as they find themselves in career limbo with unprecedented deadline pressures.

Looking outside of traditional media, we as PRs need to continue to embrace new channels and forge partnerships with unconventional players to deliver earned attention and PR value – in this climate, it’s a necessity.

There is always hope and opportunity to collaborate with national media successfully. Many outlets have successfully adapted their style to suit the changing priorities of their audience. A great example is the growing popularity of news podcasts – Newscast by BBC, The News Agents from Global are among the most popular in the UK, with listeners on the up.

Talking to the editorial team at the Daily Star, they continue to adopt a “news to entertain” footing, which produces great opportunities for consumer PR. In a time when journalists are competing against content creators for screen time, they work closely with PRs to carve out weird and wonderful stories that offer a moment of light relief. Who can forget the world’s most famous lettuce? The live feed for this pulled in around 1.7m views alone and grabbed global headlines.

Metro’s growing social team and ‘lifestyle brand’ approach means there are some great opportunities to collaborate here on social-first stories that cut through to new audiences. In October last year, Mail Metro announced a £500k innovation fund to produce innovative, media-first ideas and executions – so the ambition and market is still there for those who are willing to move.

The Mirror’s difficulties, then, are a wake-up call and another reminder of the UK media landscape’s fragility. Support for a diverse press is vital if we want it to remain free from political entanglement.

This in turn requires us to continue to evolve our ways of working. In the meantime, I hope this year can offer The Mirror some relief.

Rory Cramsie is a senior manager at Golin

First seen in PRWeek in January 2023