Print media and politics – can traditional media have an impact on general elections?

With more companies using digital media to spread their message, many people think that traditional media is no longer effective. But what if we told you that over £15m was spent on print during the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom? Direct Letterbox Marketing, service providers of leaflet distribution, tell us more:

What can past elections tell us?

In the UK, there are six political parties which most voters choose from. During the 2015 General Election, we found that the Conservative party spent the most money during its campaign — totalling £15.6m.

In second place in terms of spending was the Labour party (£12.1m). Liberal Democrats soon followed (£3.5m), then the UK Independence Party (£2.9m), SNP (£1.5m), and then lastly the Green Party (£1.1m).

Has print media became less effective over time?

Although each political party used print methods, they implemented their budget in different ways. This major investment highlights the importance of print media, and the impact it can have on a large audience, and shows that it is still relevant today. One reason as to why Labour spent this amount of money on print media is because 45% of people get their political news from a newspaper — with The Guardian being most popular at 16%.

Despite the population becoming more digitally savvy, why did Labour focus on print? According to YouGov, only 15% of people reported that they received their political news from Facebook and 8% from Twitter — showing that, although the world is going digital, more people trust printed information in comparison to information that is displayed digitally.

When researching trusted political news sources, it was discovered that during the snap election in 2016, 42% of Brits said that they trusted television more than any other outlet. Print media came in at 32%, whilst social media influenced only 26% of people. With algorithms changing constantly, more people become distrustful towards online social media platforms, as they try to enhance the experience with what they think the user wants to see — not necessarily showing the full picture when it comes to who to vote for. Print media has a duty to be impartial, and give political parties equal space to get their points across — evidently, this isn’t the same case for social media platforms.

Print media can be tailored geographically to meet specific audiences. This can help political parties immensely, especially when they’re trying to win seats and help their representative succeed across different authorities. But what are the common methods that political groups use when advertising in print?

A print campaign can begin with one idea — what message needs to be spread? For example, if there was an area in which more libraries were facing closure, they would capitalise on this and address it in their flyer, reassuring potential voters about what they would do to fix the issue.

A popular campaign tactic at a local level is to address a problem that the current party hasn’t dealt with. The campaigning party then explains how they would operate differently in favour of the public.

As we can see, it’s a common misconception that print media is dying. It’s not going anywhere and the influence it has on an audience is recognised by anyone working in business.


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