The publishing industry has faced some of its biggest challenges in the last year.
However, some of these challenges have actually made the industry more robust and given it a much-needed refresh. The last year has been both unpredictable and unprecedented, but we have all seen how the publishing industry has shown great resilience.
Publishers, both large and small, have demonstrated an ability to adapt and innovate very quickly in a bid to meet the challenges that have cropped up in every department and across the whole supply chain. At the same time the industry has made moves in a positive direction, offering employees flexible working and boosting their online presence and digital offering. Here we look at some of the challenges faced by the publishing industry in the last year and how they have helped make the industry more future-proof as it heads into 2022:
Move towards digital
The move from print to digital has intensified this year as the public have turned to online news for updates on the pandemic. This has cast a spotlight on the publishers that have ensured that their digital offering is up to date, as well as on the ones that are struggling to make the transition. At PCS our software solutions allow editorial teams to work on the digital and print versions of a story at the same time. Content is published online and sent to print simultaneously, and stories don’t have to be re-designed or written differently. We have worked with a number of small publishers and enabled them to launch mostly automated digital sites – saving them time and money, while still getting the news out to their readers.
Cost of printing
Publishers have seen increases in the cost of newsprint at levels not seen since 1996. This has had a big impact over the last year on profits, meaning an increase in the cover price of newspapers ranging from the nationals through to local weeklies. When Britain opted to leave the EU the price of newsprint jumped, while the cost for European publishers remained flat. This is because a lot of UK media companies import their newsprint supplies from European paper mills, mainly in Scandinavia. Some publishers buy their paper from North America, where there has also been a jump in prices. With energy prices increasing the cost of printing looks set to stay high, but most publishers have already made changes that will balance out this increase, such as increasing automation and focusing on their digital offering.
The news that unemployment hit its lowest levels in 2021 was definitely a reason to celebrate – unless you were looking to restructure and take on new staff members. Recruiting the right person for a role has often taken a lot longer than expected – and new candidates have demanded an increase in pay as well as flexible working conditions. PCS has always supported flexible working and our software solutions are designed to make working from home just as easy as being in the office. Our solutions allow teams across editorial, circulation, advertising and finance to work remotely – something that is proving to be very attractive to job candidates.
“I’ve been pinged” – these were the words that circulation teams across the country dreaded hearing from their drivers. When people started to get a message from the NHS app to tell them they had to isolate it threw deliveries into chaos. At the same time, drivers that were considered vulnerable had to stay at home, while some shops closed or refused to take deliveries. However, while most of us were able to work from home, delivery drivers were considered by a number of people to be essential workers. They delivered the news to readers that were desperate to hear what was happening in their local area, and at the same time had to adhere to rules on social distancing and the wearing of PPE. Publishers found ways of getting the news out to their readers, which included stocking their titles at new outlets and increasing home deliveries.
Working from home comes with a lot of benefits, but employers often didn’t have time to conduct training on safe interaction over the internet which led to an increase in cybersecurity threats. Often staff members were connecting to the office infrastructure via home devices, which were often poorly protected. Cybercriminals used the increase in online entertainment to lure users to fake sites and encouraged them to download malware, often disguised as a movie or similar file. Security gaps have also been found in videoconferencing software. Plus cybercriminals tried to capitalise on fear of the virus and people’s need for help by sending out a number of phishing emails. It has been a wake-up call for the publishing industry, with many companies increasing their protection against cybercrime.
None of us could have predicted the effect that a pandemic would have on the industry. When we saw readers unable to leave their homes to buy a newspaper, and several businesses suspend their advertising we all wondered what the future would hold.
However, at the same time, people wanted regular local news updates on the situation and turned to the online version of their local newspaper. While some advertising decreased, others surged such as the UK government, supermarkets, and fast-food chains.
Publishers rose to the challenges they were faced with, such as offering work from home, increasing their digital output, and changing their newspaper delivery services. As we head into 2022 the industry is more resilient for making changes that are benefiting both their employees and their readers.
Here at PCS, our software solutions have always supported remote working, and we were proud that all our publishing partners were able to carry on getting the news out when it mattered most.