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Shout it loud: print is safe!

The future of print depends on countering negative messaging about its safety.

By James Evelegh

Shout it loud: print is safe!

Prior to the arrival of the Covid pandemic, sales of newspapers and magazines to the hospitality sector were growing year on year. Print was seeing a renaissance within the hotel sector as wise hoteliers saw the provision of a quality glossy magazine within a guest room as an essential luxury amenity. A copy of Vogue, Harpers, National Geographic and a copy of The Times delivered to the room each morning is now seen as a brand standard for a luxury hotel. Famous hotels such as The Dorchester, Rosewood, The Ned, etc use social media influencers to attract new customers. These influencers often post themselves reading a glossy magazine in their hotel room. Iconic publishing brands in print are now an intrinsic part of the DNA of a quality hotel room.

When hotels started to re-open last year, the government issued guidelines to the hospitality, spa, salon, medical sector instructing them to cease offering publications to guests, stating print could pass Covid on to customers. This guidance was issued without any scientific evidence. There was in fact more evidence to prove print was safe due to its sterile production processes. As a consequence of this guidance, literally millions of orders of paid-for print publications were lost instantly from hotels, spas, gyms, B&Bs, doctors etc. Ironically, many of these cancelled publications were diverted and donated directly to the NHS by publishers and delivered daily to very grateful, hard-working NHS staff in hospitals across the country. Doctors and nurses on the Covid frontlines quite rightly showed zero fear of print.

Despite months of desperate pleas to the government to remove their ridiculous guidance on print, the rules remained in place until May 2021. The damage done to print as a consequence of being demonised unfairly has been devastating. Many industry sectors still believe print is banned. Our sales team are having to re-educate customers that print is a safe product to offer to their visitors. The impact nationally will be impossible to quantify. Prior to the pandemic, every news retailer across the UK will have supplied his local coffee shop, dentist, doctor, B&B, salon etc with a daily supply of newspapers and magazines. These orders aren’t coming back as lockdown ends as nobody is telling these venues that print is safe.

The negative impact that Covid has had on print is enormous and needs to be challenged and corrected by the publishing industry by working together, preferably through an industry body such as the PPA or NMA. The industry needs to vouch for its safe virtues and prove that print isn’t the plague carrying harbourer of doom that the UK government would have had people believe.

The negative impact that Covid has had on print is enormous and needs to be challenged and corrected by the publishing industry.

About Gold Key Media

We are audience engagement specialists, representing some of the world’s most iconic publishing brands in print and digital format. We distribute over 70 million print newspapers and magazines per year globally to hotels, corporate HQs, airlines, rail networks, private medical, NHS, events, home workers. We are ABC, BPA and OJD approved distributors.


Twitter: @GoldKeyMedia


This article is part of our ‘Print Post-Pandemic’ special feature, looking at the future of print as we emerge from lockdown. The feature includes the following articles by leading publishers and suppliers:

A major part of the mix, by Mark Allen

Rewards extended dwell time, by Sally Hampton

Shout it loud: print is safe!, by Chris Horn

Targeted distribution is key, by Stephanie Hyde

New metrics needed, by Keiron Jefferies

Sustainability: consumers demanding more, by Sarah Lesting

We need to change the way we operate, by Nicola Murphy

Reasons for (justifiable) optimism, by Tim Robinson

Luxury is physical, by Piers Russell-Cobb

Positive outlook, by Adam Sherman

Subtle changes bring cost savings, by Julian Townsend

Turning ‘expensive’ into ‘premium’, by Neil Wass

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.