New research has shown that newspapers play a highly effective role in delivering timely and complex Covid-19 public awareness messages to the public.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the Irish government have been communicating Covid-19 public health and information messages via full-page advertisements in Ireland’s national and local newspapers.
Independent research conducted by international research company, Research and Analysis of Media (RAM), has shown that these advertisements outperformed all other similar ads in achieving above average recall, recognition, engagement, and action. The online survey was completed by an independent panel of 750 respondents.
77% of readers recalled the full-page public health advertisements. This particular campaign outperformed other public awareness campaigns in the UK & Ireland, which would normally expect a recall figure of around 49%.
According to Dianne Newman, CEO RAM (UK & Ireland) – “This research clearly demonstrates the power and effectiveness of Irish newsbrands in delivering complex messages, that can be challenging to portray through other media channels. It was effective not only in terms of creating strong memory traces amongst the Irish population, but also encouraging them to respond and take action.
The nature of the information communicated in the government advertisements was highly complex but the newspapers’ full-page platform allowed the vitally important messages to be communicated clearly and concisely. When asked to rate which medium was best suited to delivering this type of complex message, respondents placed newspapers first, ahead of TV, Radio, Social Media, and Outdoor. In addition, 65% of respondents felt fully informed of the situation as a result of these ads
Depth and Retention of Reading
- 85% of respondents said they would remember between half and all of the advertisement’s content (65% would remember all of the contents)
- 66% of respondents said that that read all/almost all of the ad’s contents, with a further 17% reading around half of the complex campaign message.
- 67% of respondents said they would refer back to the contents of the advertisement at a later stage
- Despite misconceptions that younger people no longer engage with traditional printed media, the research confirms that young people respond positively to messages in print with 78% of 15 – 34 year olds having read all/almost all of this complex message compared to 66% in the adult population.
- Furthermore over 80% of this youth market will refer back to the advertisement at a later date – far higher than the 67% in the adult population.
Level of Trust in Each Media delivering Covid-19 messages
- Newspapers and TV came out as the most trustworthy medium for delivering Covid-19 public information, followed by Radio, Outdoor, Direct Mail, Websites, Cinema, Magazines, and Social Media. Quality newspaper media environments ensure a quality of content and context which is beneficial to the advertiser – this increases reader’s retention, recall, engagement and the emotional intensity of the message (Source: Newsworks/Association for Online Publishing)
The research was commissioned in July 2020 by NewsBrands Ireland, the representative body for Ireland’s national news publishers, who produce sixteen printed newspapers and twelve news websites and mobile apps.
According to Ann Marie Lenihan, CEO of NewsBrands Ireland, “At a time when citizens need access to accurate, reliable, fact-checked information about coronavirus, they continue to look to news publishers and information produced by professional journalists for that information. That editorial environment provides an excellent backdrop to important public health advertising messages and this research proves its effectiveness.”
‘Give even one big GAA game to Ballinasloe’
It’s the most centrally located ground in the country but Ballinasloe’s Duggan Park won’t host a single inter-county match this year – much to the annoyance of one local councillor who wants the GAA to allocate at least one big game to the venue.
Cllr Michael Connolly told a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that the ground is entitled to host major football and hurling fixtures – even though all but one of the Galway footballers’ home league games are assigned to Pearse Stadium with the other one in Tuam.
“If they gave us one match in Duggan Park, it would be something,” he said. “But at the moment, it seems as if it is being ignored.”
The Moylough councillor described it as the most accessible ground in the country and a venue in which players and supporters like to travel to – unlike, he suggested, Pearse Stadium.
He said that it was “a hateful venue” and few GAA supporters relished the prospect of travelling to the “far side of the city” to watch a football or hurling match.
A recent meeting in Gullane’s Hotel to discuss Duggan Park was attended by Deputy Denis Naughton, Senator Aisling Dolan, Cllr Evelyn Parsons and Cllr Declan Kelly among others.
But the Duggan Park Committee then issued a statement saying that the ground is owned by Galway GAA and any use of the facility needed to be authorised – and no authorisation was given to the meeting organiser, former Mayor of Ballinasloe Joe Kelly, for this purpose.
Mr Kelly has been a staunch campaigner for the redevelopment of Duggan Park and has called on the local authority to row in behind this initiative.
They went on to say that there is a plan in place for the development of Duggan Park which is multiple staged which started with the new dressing rooms, flood lights and a new entrance to the venue.
Planning permission is in place for this development and that €500,000 has already been spent in the Duggan Park over the past number of years carrying out these projects.
The work in the ground, they say, is done to an excellent standard by local contractors with the support of the previous Town Council for grants and sports capital grants.
Former tourism magnet officially on register of derelict sites
The fire-ravaged hotel that was once one of the most popular in the county is now officially considered a derelict site – and that has led a local councillor to call for it to be either redeveloped or levelled.
Portumna’s Shannon Oaks Hotel, for so long popular with anglers and golfers in particular, has been boarded up for more than a decade since it was destroyed by fire.
Local councillor, Jimmy McClearn, has called on the owners to reopen or sell the property – adding that it should either be levelled or redeveloped.
“We are a tourist town and we need a hotel. The last thing we want is for a hotel to be shut up,” he said.
“It is a fine facility and on an extensive site so there is no reason why it should be boarded up,” he added.
The Shannon Oaks saga has gone on for the past twelve years – but now the owners, the multi-millionaire Comer brothers, will be forced to pay a derelict site levy if they do not reopen or redevelop.
That amounts to a seven per cent levy based on the market value of the property, which is worth around €1 million even in its derelict state.
The Shannon Oaks was ravaged by fire in September 2011 and four years later, the site was acquired by the Comer Group who, at the time, gave an undertaking that it would be reopened.
Around two years ago, planning permission was granted by Galway County Council to Barry Comer of the Comer Group to renovate the hotel by providing 60 new bedrooms along with 40 apartments to the rear of the structure.
However, there has been little or no movement on the site since then and now the owners are being again asked to give some indication as to when the hotel will be rebuilt.
It is considered an integral part of the tourism industry for the town and that is why pressure is mounting on the owners to rebuild the hotel.
Cllr McClearn said that all he is asking for is the owners to develop the site and provide a hotel there. “It’s not much to ask in a tourist town,” he added.
More than €200,000 worth of cannabis seized in East Galway
More than €200,000 worth of cannabis was seized in during two separate search operations in East Galway on Saturday.
Gardai from the Divisional Drugs Unit conducted a search at a residence in Aughrim and seized cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €146,000 and €20,000 worth of cannabis herb which will now be sent for analysis.
Two men (both in their 30s) were arrested at the scene in connection with the investigation and are currently detained at Galway Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996. Both men remain in custody.
A separate search was carried out at a residence in Ballinasloe yesterday afternoon and cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €35,000 was seized. Cannabis jellies and €7,510 in cash were also seized.
A man in his 40s was arrested and later released without charge and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.