Behind the brand: News UK's year in events

Publisher News UK is changing to procure more events in-house. Brea Carter takes a closer look at what this means for the brand.

News UK is expanding its print titles to include live events
News UK is expanding its print titles to include live events

News UK forms part of News Corp, an international media company with a presence in countries including the UK, United States and Australia.

"[News Corp is] focused on creating and distributing content that educates, entertains, informs and inspires our customers," says Natasha Warren, head of group events at News UK.

While the brand is perhaps best known for its publication of print titles such as The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun, the brand is looking for new ways to expand its reach, and has opted to focus its attention on live events.

"They have become pioneers in the field of journalism, innovating ahead of the pack time after time," Warren explains.

"In recent years, that pace of innovation has sped up with the advent of digital channels and an unprecedented focus on customer engagement."

In the UK, the company's events team has expanded to better accommodate live experiences. The now nine-person team sits within News UK's marketing department and manages around 300 events a year, assisted by agencies such as Slice and Stretch, as well as MG Promotions, which provides newspaper and subscription-selling staff.

"We aim to put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and our events and experiential activity give us a chance to put that strategy into action," says Warren. "Working on three major newspapers means our events schedule is varied, keeping our team enthused because we never know what's coming next."

Supporting the titles

News UK's live experiences are designed to complement its titles, and as such their content and themes will vary depending on the publication.

"We run events to drive awareness of our titles, support marketing and editorial campaigns and celebrate our journalists," Warren explains.

"We engage with our readers and allow them to meet the faces behind the bylines, offering exclusive opportunities and experiences they couldn't get anywhere else."

She adds that these experiences can grow the company's customer base and boost morale among its existing readership.

"[Events are] a great way to acquire new customers and reward loyalty across The Times and The Sunday Times, and drive awareness and frequency of purchase for The Sun," she says.

This year, Warren and her team's events have included one that brought to life The Sunday Times' coverage of Lance Armstrong's rise and fall. It was centred around a new film, The Program.

"In October The Times hosted a double preview screening of the movie, which is based on the work of Sunday Times journalist David Walsh, who began to question if Armstrong, the 'world's greatest athlete', was 'clean'.

"[Walsh's] battle with Armstrong meant risking his career and being ostracised from the cycling community, and it cost The Sunday Times hundreds of thousands in legal costs. Walsh eventually uncovered the truth," says Warren.

The screening was followed by a Q&A-style session with Walsh, enabling attendees to learn more about about his coverage of the athlete. Sarah Baxter, deputy editor of The Sunday Times, hosted the event.

The Times and The Sunday Times are title sponsors of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and this year, with more than 140,000 tickets sold, attendees were invited to take advantage of events organised by the brand.

"The team created a membership lounge, which had a giant Times crossword, and there were opportunities to print the front page of the newspaper from the day guests were born, screenings of The Times' Unquiet film series that documents the work of its journalists, and a bookstore where people could swap or take a top-selling book," Warren recalls.

"Free newspapers were handed out to members, and non-members could get one by providing a few details for our data collection exercise."

News UK hosted more than 30 events throughout the ten-day festival, chaired by journalists from the two titles.

"The editors of The Times and The Sunday Times hosted a party where more than 200 guests helped us celebrate our sponsorship. Haig Club provided the drinks, including six signature cocktails that had literature and newspaper-related names," adds Warren.

News UK created two dedicated digital hubs for the event, ensuring that those who were unable to attend could keep up to date online with what was happening.

The company also delivered The Times Sports Women of the Year Award event at the beginning of November, in association with insurance brand Vitality. Broadcast live from Sky Studios, it celebrated women's sport across seven categories.

"With the three brands supporting the awards, we aim to maximise the impact of the event and create longevity so it doesn't just have a peak each November," Warren explains.

Other recent events include a Q&A session with ex-footballers Thierry Henry and Teddy Sheringham, hosted by The Sun sports editor Shaun Custis. It sought to promote The Sun Dream Team, a fantasy football league with more than 1.2 million players.

Extending the life of events

News UK plans to focus on delivering events that exist beyond the physical experience. "Although everything we do is fully integrated and supported within our newspapers, both in print and digital, it's important that we continue to create bespoke events to engage our existing readers and create brand awareness to attract prospective customers," says Warren.

"Our key challenge is to create longevity around our campaigns. We need an ongoing dialogue with our customers before, during and after their attendance at an event."

Key statistics: 

  • Three - The number of titles that the company's events team works across
  • Nine - employees comprise News UK's events team
  • 140k - The number of tickets sold for this year's Cheltenham Literature Festival

Five fast facts about Natasha Warren, head of group events, News UK

  • 1. Has more than ten years of newspaper-marketing experience
  • 2. Joined News UK seven years ago
  • 3. Heads a team that executes more than 300 national events each year
  • 4. Responsible for selling more than 22,000 tickets for News UK events
  • 5. Career highlights include delivering an event with actor Russell Crowe

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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