The effects of print media on the UK general elections

As we progress further into the Digital Age, many people think that traditional methods of marketing aren’t as effective as they used to be. But what if we told you that over £15m was spent on print during the 2015 General Election in the United Kingdom?


The past elections

In the UK, there are six main political parties. These parties all have different marketing budgets to spread their message. During the 2015 General Election, we found that the Conservative party spent the most money during its campaign — totalling £15.6m.

Labour was found to spend the second highest amount during the same campaign with £12.1 million. Liberal Democrats soon followed (£3.5m), then the UK Independence Party (£2.9m), SNP (£1.5m), and then lastly the Green Party (£1.1m).

As we can seem each party spent a different amount on their campaign, this is understandable as they all have different values.


Is print now less effective?


The Labour party doesn’t seem to think so. 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%.

So, why did Labour not jump on the digital bandwagon? 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.

Studies have shown that Britain’s find the television a trusty information source. In fact, 42% of Brits said that they trusted this outlet more than any other. 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.

Print advertising can be specifically tailored by location too. Whether this is putting up billboards or printing flyers for postal 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?

When marketing through print, it begins with thinking about what you want to say in your campaign. 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 popular method taken by many political parties is to address location-specific issues. They address the current party in control has inflicted in this community and how they would operate differently in favour of the public.

Choosing an audience to target a message towards can be fairly straightforward if you know what you have to say. 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.