Har­ness the power of news­pa­pers.

The Works - - FRONT PAGE - ROB PYNE looks at how me­dia in­flu­ence re­ally works and the role of news­pa­per news­rooms

To in­flu­ence some­one is to cause a change in their at­ti­tudes or be­hav­iours.

In­flu­ence is the core business of mar­ket­ing, whether you are look­ing at the lat­est be­havioural ap­proaches, which hold that we need to in­flu­ence at the be­havioural level first be­fore we can change at­ti­tudes, or more tra­di­tional ap­proaches which fo­cus on in­flu­enc­ing at­ti­tudes to flow down into be­hav­iours.

Over the past 50 years and more, there has been a con­certed ef­fort from aca­demics and mar­keters to un­der­stand the role of me­dia in in­flu­enc­ing con­sumers1.

Th­ese the­o­ries be­gan as oneway “broad­cast” the­o­ries of mass in­flu­ence, and more re­cently have fo­cused on two-way the­o­ries where con­sumers act as cre­ators, in­ter­preters and shar­ers of me­dia in­flu­ence – not just pas­sive re­cip­i­ents.

This two-way na­ture of me­dia in­flu­ence is cer­tainly ap­par­ent in news­pa­per me­dia, where con­tent is now both added to and am­pli­fied by read­ers. For ex­am­ple, we see that many news ar­ti­cles re­ceive hun­dreds of com­ments and thou­sands of shares and re-shares.

More broadly, there are at least four path­ways for me­dia in­flu­ence which have been fea­tured most promi­nently in aca­demic re­search. Each path­way is built on pro­vid­ing in­sights and ideas for con­sumers.

Why does me­dia in­flu­ence hap­pen?

Un­der­pin­ning th­ese four path­ways, we need to ask why some me­dia are in­flu­en­tial? Ac­cord­ing to the “fa­ther of in­flu­ence re­search”, Robert Cial­dini, in­flu­ence from any source re­lies on fac­tors in­clud­ing au­thor­ity and salience2. There­fore, when it comes to mar­ket­ing, the most in­flu­en­tial me­dia are the most trusted and the high­est reach­ing.

The pil­lars of in­flu­ence

We wanted to com­bine trust and reach with the four in­flu­ence path­ways to sug­gest a uni­fied ap­proach to me­dia in­flu­ence for mar­keters. Based on anal­y­sis of avail­able re­search, we pro­pose a model to un­der­stand how au­di­ences are in­flu­enced by me­dia in gen­eral, and specif­i­cally by news­pa­per me­dia.


Con­sumers turn to news­pa­per me­dia to un­der­stand the is­sues of the day. The large num­ber of jour­nal­ists and pho­tog­ra­phers on staff at news­pa­per me­dia com­pa­nies, many of them ex­perts in their field, are on hand to re­port on and give con­text to the main sto­ries.

The agenda-set­ting the­ory3 of me­dia in­flu­ence re­veals how news­pa­per me­dia shine a spot­light on what’s im­por­tant and re­lates it to our lives; in other words, what it means for me.

As well as re­act­ing to global and lo­cal events, we trust news­pa­per me­dia to of­fer proac­tive in­sights into im­por­tant ar­eas of our lives – ev­ery­thing from fi­nance to new trends in travel and food.

For mar­keters, this presents the op­por­tu­nity to con­nect your brand to im­por­tant as­pects of con­sumers’ lives, and to tell the back­story of your brand and why it’s im­por­tant. In news­pa­per me­dia, peo­ple are in­ter­ested in the de­tail, es­pe­cially if it’s clev­erly writ­ten (read: in­sight­ful) or emo­tional4.


Me­dia de­pen­dency the­ory5 shows how peo­ple de­pend on the me­dia to help them meet their goals and needs. In par­tic­u­lar, this ap­proach fo­cuses on help­ing peo­ple act mean­ing­fully and ef­fec­tively in their world.

The core func­tion of news­pa­per me­dia in this area is to present each of us with scores of in­ter­est­ing new ideas ev­ery day: from the news, to the dif­fer­ent sec­tions (health, money, travel, real es­tate and so on) and in­clude ad­ver­tis­ing, which is an in­te­gral part of the ex­pe­ri­ence.


In or­der to in­flu­ence peo­ple, you need to have what Cial­dini, calls “au­thor­ity” 2. One of the best mea­sures of this in me­dia is how much peo­ple trust your con­tent and your ad­ver­tis­ing.

We know from Nielsen’s 2013 Global Trust re­port that news­pa­per me­dia ads have the high­est level of con­sumer trust of any paid medium, at 58% 6.

As a whole, it’s easy to see why peo­ple trust news­pa­per me­dia the most – the ed­i­to­rial teams have strict codes of con­duct, pro­fes­sional train­ing, a de­sire to be ob­jec­tive, and a body to re­solve reader com­plaints – the Aus­tralian Press Coun­cil.


News­pa­per me­dia di­rectly reach 16.4 mil­lion Aus­tralians ev­ery month across print and dig­i­tal plat­forms. What’s more, they in­di­rectly reach Aus­tralians via set­ting the news agenda for other me­dia. It’s highly likely that the sto­ries you see in other me­dia, from TV to Twit­ter8 and ev­ery­thing in be­tween, orig­i­nated in a news­pa­per.

Tell Me the Story

From a mar­keter’s per­spec­tive, this think­ing around in­flu­ence has some clear im­pli­ca­tions.

“Sto­ry­telling” has be­come a big theme in mar­ket­ing.

The idea of telling a com­pelling and emo­tional story us­ing in­sights and ideas about their world is one where mar­keters can ex­cel in news­pa­per me­dia.

The long copy ad can be in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful4. In a Cana­dian study, con­sumers rated news­pa­pers as the medium where they most value the ad­ver­tis­ing as part of the expe­ri­ence7.

Show me how I can use your prod­uct in my life. Re­lat­ing your prod­uct or idea to con­sumers’ lives is eas­ily done when there are so many rel­e­vant en­vi­ron­ments in news­pa­per me­dia. Show­ing how your prod­uct meets their needs and goals can be achieved through “how-to” ad­ver­tis­ing and con­tent.

Lever­age the trust. Con­sumer trust in their news­pa­per of choice is high. Mar­keters can lever­age this trust if they tai­lor their ap­proach to the dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iours of dif­fer­ent news­pa­per read­ers. Trust can be built quick­est through a part­ner­ship ap­proach with the news­pa­per in ques­tion to fit its ed­i­to­rial ap­proach.

Am­plify your in­flu­ence. With 93 per cent of Aus­tralians aged 14+ be­ing reached by news­pa­per me­dia each month, there is the op­por­tu­nity to achieve in­flu­ence on a mas­sive scale. By se­lect­ing a range of metro, lo­cal and re­gional news­pa­per me­dia mar­keters can cre­ate an in­flu­en­tial cam­paign in the en­vi­ron­ments where con­sumers are truly en­gaged. 1. The Evo­lu­tion of Me­dia Ef­fects The­ory: A Six-Stage Model of Cu­mu­la­tive Re­search. Neu­man & Gu­gen­heim. 2. In­flu­ence by Robert Cial­dini 3. Agenda Set­ting The­ory, see for ex­am­ple

Wikipedia 4. In­sights into Long Copy ads. Thenews

paper­works.com.au 5. Me­dia Sys­tem De­pen­dency The­ory.

Com­mu­ca­tion­the­ory.org (UNSW). 6. Nielsen Global Trust in Ad­ver­tis­ing and

Brand Mes­sages Re­port, Sept 2013. 7. Cana­dian News­pa­per As­so­ci­a­tion,

quoted on the­news­pa­per­works.com.au 8. News Whip, Aug 2013, quoted on


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