12 Dec 2022

Media Network: Christmas Special: How UK Journalists need you in the festive period

Welcome to the MHP Group Media Network bulletin. Our unrivalled team of former journalists and media experts bring you the latest insights behind the headlines.

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The festive season offers both opportunities and challenges for brands, with editors on the hunt for stand out Christmas stories, but also inundated with press releases. Twixmas, the period between Christmas and New Year, can be a good time to land coverage, with skeleton staffed news desks desperate for content, but you need to plan ahead.  

The MHP Group Media Network spoke to a range of writers to find out if all they want for Christmas is good stories…

  • The Times wants lighter stories to cheer up their readers and counter some of the heavier news around the cost of living, strikes and politics. News Editor Tom Payne says: “Anything non-time-specific, which we can run at any point over Christmas/New Year is a great start. Consumer stories are always in demand, as long as they’re not blatant puff pieces, and we also keen on human interest tales involving names and pictured case studies. Bonus points for anything which comes with added digital elements (graphics/polls/interactive etc)” 
  • Nina Massey, Science Correspondent at PA Media, says the news desk is actively looking for Twixmas stories now: “There’s inevitably some Christmas-related stories, but as a news agency, it is still all about news. The news desk started compiling the list of content for between Christmas and New Year in November, and is very much still looking for timeless stories they can store away” 
  • The cost-of-living crisis is going to remain a key topic for the Daily Mirror over the festive season, according to News Editor Dominic Herbert. He says: “Cost-of-living stories can cover a wide range of issues from struggling families to small businesses. Anything that shows people are being hit in the pocket. We always need good figures (ideally with comparisons to previous years) to give it a new hook and, if possible, case studies to help humanise the story. Away from cost-of-living we are looking for light and bright consumer stories, nostalgic surveys and interview opportunities. Anything to lift people’s mood.” 
  • Eleanor Deeley at Sky News says their Christmas rotas start from Monday 19th December, so they will be using a lot of pre-planned material from that point. “Our priorities will be the cost of living, with guests lined up at foodbanks, charities and even a school which is opening up as a centre of warmth over the Christmas period. There will also be some climate-related stories focusing on natural restoration and green energy.” 
  • Richard Wheeler, Parliamentary Editor at PA Media told us he is looking for: “Anything that’ll hold and can go any day when it’s quiet – making sure it has images, video possibilities to ensure it’s a better package” 
  • Meanwhile, Natalie Crockett, Associate News Editor, The Independent is after “Polls or anything data led, particularly anything that isn’t time sensitive in the lead-up [to Christmas] so we can space stuff out and help fill any holes.” 
  • The Evening Standard has already started planning its New Year coverage, according to Anthony France. He says the next few days are crucial to pitch stories between now and 2nd January, as very little news happens over the festive period. His advice is “Think evergreen. The best stories are about festive themes that are not time sensitive. Anniversaries, stars of Christmas No1s, TV repeats, “woke” pantomime shows”. 
  • Many trade titles will be running skeleton editorial teams over the Christmas period. Grocery Gazette said although only one member of staff will be covering between Christmas and New Year’s they will still be publishing content.
  • Despite being well into December, gift guides are still going strong according to Jessica Brunt, Shopping Editor at Buzzfeed. She says budget-friendly items, unsurprisingly, are doing well, but that higher ticket items with good investment or sell-on value can still be popular too.

So there you have it. The earlier the news desk gets eyes on the story the better, and brands will stand a stronger chance of getting coverage if the pieces are timeless and provide some light relief to the heavy news agenda.

That’s the last bulletin of the year, wishing you a very merry Christmas, and happy New year from everyone in the MHP Group Media Network.

By James Rollinson, Keith GladdisIan KirbyNick Collins and Annie Knight

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