Does Print Media Have an Impact On General Elections In The UK?

With new technologies being released, the way we advertise to an audience is changing — but old methods are still on top of their game. However, print media is now overlooked and is seen as a less effective way to spread a message. But what if we told you that over £15m was spent on print during the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom?Print media impact

Looking At Past Elections

There are six main political parties here in the UK which all have different budgets when it comes to advertising. During the 2015 General Election, we found that the Conservative party spent the most money during its campaign — totalling £15.6m.

The party with the second highest budget during the 2015 election was the main opposition — Labour, with £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).

Each party seemed to have very different budgets for its campaign during the race to number 10, but all had their set priorities which would result in different spending.

Is Print As Effective As It Used To Be?

Each political party approached print advertising methods differently, but we found that Labour invested over half its budget on flyers, posters and leaflets to get its message across. 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%.

Although the world is becoming more digitally active, why did Labour not use this to its advantage? 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.

Looking back at the snap election in 2017, most Brits (42%) found themselves trusting 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.

It’s important to highlight that print media can be easily tailored to a specific audience based on its location — whether this is putting up billboards or printing flyers for door to door leaflet distribution. 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?

It begins with a simple message and an issue that they want to tackle — what do you want to say to the people you’re distributing to? 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 common method taken by parties that aren’t in control of a particular district is addressing the problems the current party in control has inflicted in this community and how they would operate differently in favour of the public.

Targeting an audience can be simply done, especially with an event dominating the public eye. There’s a huge misconception that print media is dying — but it’s not going anywhere and the influence it has on an audience is recognised by anyone working in business.