The power of the written word

Josephine Buys, PRC CEO

By Josephine Buys, CEO, Publisher Research Council. First published in The Media Online, 28 May 2019.

My career has been built on the fact that people love to read, whether it be newspapers, magazines, books or online content. As a human race, we are hardwired to consume and share our stories. For this reason, I am a firm believer in the written word, whether digital or hard copy, and now, more than ever before, there is a hunger for legitimacy and trust in what people are reading (and sharing) on and offline.

I believe we are at a tipping point in South Africa, on the continent and globally. Consumers and readers want trustworthy and accurate information (#truenews), advertisers want their messaging to be in brand safe environments; and only a trusted collective of publishers with legitimate newsrooms, qualified journalists and robust fact-checking departments can provide that.

In light of multiple recent and ongoing personal data breach crises globally* there is no better time to remind both consumers and advertisers that they can read and trust long standing, trusted publishers who in turn have a golden opportunity to re-establish their credentials in the fight against fake news.

For marketers the needle is shifting. Agencies no longer have the free rein and the sheer trust of their clients that they’ve enjoyed in the past. Margins are shrinking, clients want accountability and ‘digital’ has boxed itself in with the promise of transparency. Publishers can collectively prove that the value of the written word, being consumed and trusted in a quality environment, offers a highly effective return on investment (ROI). There have been numerous Media ROI studies carried out over the past several years, including one by our Publisher Audience Measurement Survey (PAMS) partner, Nielsen’s Advanced Analytics team, to prove that digital and print combined consistently deliver the greatest ROI for every Rand spent than any other medium.**

The core tenet of the Publisher Research Council (PRC), therefore is tracking the value, evolution and impact of the written word. We champion reading by funding several large scale, representative studies each year, which give marketers and media buyers the facts at their fingertips as powerful rationale for supporting newspapers, magazines and online news publishers with appropriate adspend.

The PRC’s Publisher Audience Measurement Survey (PAMS) provides the gold standard in Reader Audience Measurement founded on global and local best-in-class practice, expertise and resources, delivering the most complete measurement of reader audiences across all platforms to inform effective advertising investment. Analysis of these research resources can also directly inform decisions on what mix of media touch-points is most effective when accompanying print to maximise integrated media campaigns.

At a time when the content being created on our media channels has become muddied, as well as the value of the channels the content is shared on, it is time to empower ourselves with the facts we require to make informed decisions. The media industry is evolving, with new challenges and opportunities, but at its core it is about stories. As we move forward there is a comfort in celebrating those channels that have delivered accurate content, time and time again. For me, that conversation begins with the power of the written word.

*https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-cairncross-review-a-sustainable-future-for-journalism

**http://www.prc.za.com/2018/10/17/digital-and-print-combined-consistently-deliver-the-greatest-roi/