Calls to extend Government coronavirus poster to regional and hyperlocal press

Posted on: April 3, 2020 by Claire Meadows

A series of powerful new adverts warning the public to stay inside have been launched by the UK government amid calls for public information campaigns to be extended to regional and hyperlocal publishers.

The campaign, launched to deter people from going outside during the coronavirus lockdown, has seen full page adverts appear in national print titles. The adverts warn the public that ‘people will die’ if they do not stay at home and feature the slogan: ‘Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.’ They have been placed in most national newspapers and across a number of social media platforms.

There have been further calls this week for government campaigns to be extended to the regional press with The Yorkshire Post Editor James Mitchinson also leading on calls to extend the 100% business rates holiday for the retail and hospitality industry to struggling news publishers.

Writing to local MPs earlier this week he said: “Local newspapers for those which I am responsible are amongst the most trusted sources of news in the country.  A message sent by us is far more likely to be trusted and therefore taken seriously than almost any other method of communication.”

Mitchinson’s plea has been backed by a group of 23 cross-party MPs in Yorkshire, including Shadow Culture Secretary Tracy Brabin and Yvette Cooper MP who have highlighted the importance of the local media. 

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP, the MPs said that extending campaigns to regional and local newspapers would benefit the public and connect the government’s message with hard-to-reach communities and individuals.  

They said: “A public information campaign through local media [would be] particularly effective through such trusted vehicles, and would help connect the government’s important advice to stay at home and save lives with people the government may not otherwise be reaching.”

Calls for an extension of the Government’s public health advertisements have also been backed by The Independent Community News Network which represents more than 100 independent and hyperlocal titles.

ICNN Director Emma Meese has previously warned that hyperlocals will be ‘out of business within weeks’ if financial support is not provided. The organisation has called for direct funding for its members, a share of public health advertising and recognition of ICNN members as key workers.