Five minutes with…Joanne McGreevy, Marketplace Publisher, Reach

What drew you to the news publishing business?

I first worked in media as a student in RTÉ on a University placement before moving to print publishing. Once any sort of media gets into your blood, it’s hard to consider anything else.  It’s a privilege to have been in our newsrooms at the very best of times but also the very worst of times. You are at the very heart of things and on a local level, sometimes your contribution can make a difference and shape change. I love that. I have missed the newsroom buzz these past 6 months.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in news publishing internationally right now?

So many to mention, but I would highlight the shift to authentic brands and content around news reporting. This has to be a positive outcome of the pandemic. More people turned to trusted brands for their source of news and for Reach Ireland – this was on a great scale. I think the fake news phenomenon is weakening. People are savvier nowadays. In some ways, it is easier to make that connection with readers with strong local and national content but that engagement and trust process needs constantly evaluated and reviewed.  Once they connect with your brand, it is yours to lose. It is about building a loyal reader and working constantly on that relationship.  It is a smaller world at the moment too in terms of news publishing as the news agendas around the world have the same headlines – the pandemic, Brexit, the presidential election to name a few.

Current challenges facing news publishers?

Where do I start? The C words – Covid and circulation – and keeping up with people’s shopping behaviours is the wholesalers’ own version of track and trace. The pandemic is adding additional pressure across the panacea of the modern media landscape and not just circulation. At Reach Ireland, I think we have done this well given our good print circulation performance and double-digit audience growth in digital. In print, our newspapers have proved resilient in terms of circulation – the Sundays are showing year-on-year growth as is RSVP magazine.

Given the news agenda at the moment, the environment of news sites has changed, and news publishers can struggle to develop advertising with the right tone and messages for their audiences. So again, connecting with audiences through advertising that showcases creativity and emotional sensitivity to the world around us is more important than ever now.

What’s next for your publication/ Any exciting news you’d like to share?

The digital footprint of Reach in Ireland has grown considerably over the last year. In fact October will be a record audience for us showing 61% growth year-on-year. I think that’s a great indicator that we have got things right and we are heading in a good direction. Our message is one of positivity. We are not stopping and have plans to grow that footprint further.
In print, our newspaper sales have been remarkably robust too. This is very encouraging and over the next year we hope to build on that further when we complete the acquisition of the Irish Star, which will hopefully be before the end of this year.
As a growing business in Ireland, we have a clear understanding of the value of our business now and what we are offering our readers and our customers.

What is your most memorable or favourite news moment/story in the past year? 

As a Man Utd mad family, it has to be Marcus Rashford taking on the UK Government and winning free meals for school children during the school holidays. A remarkable young man who has not let fame and fortune go to his head, who has no ego and has truly led by example.