COVID-19 Response spotlight: press partnerships

As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet Office National Resilience Hub created a unique collaboration with the news media industry. Consisting of over 600 national, regional, local and multicultural titles (and over 300 digital platforms) across the UK and reaching over 49 million adults monthly,  the Press Partnership provided an effective channel to deliver messages which help keep citizens and businesses safe from the virus and protect the NHS. 

During the partnership, we have developed over 80 pieces of sponsored content, which have benefitted from the audience reach that the publications enjoy. Research confirms readers turn to their publications in times of a crisis and that the level of trust placed in the content is up to 25 times higher than other government communications.

The sponsored content has covered vital aspects of tackling the virus – from regular testing to encouraging the nation to “Get Boosted Now”. And when extra impact was needed, such as the original instruction to stay home or download the COVID-19 app, 4 page cover wraps and home page takeovers created unmissable content. 

Larger images of cover wraps (PDF, 2MB)

Every piece of content is developed in the house style of each publication, using a combination of real people (over 590 case studies sourced), and expert voices such as Dame Jenny Harries, Sir Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance to land the key messages. In total, over 53k pages have been published to date.

Most importantly, after nearly 2 years of the Press Partnership, tracking research confirms that the content still delivers results with no sign that the net trust of content is decreasing.

For instance, as a result of seeing the content over Christmas encouraging people to “Get Boosted Now”, 82% claimed it made them aware that all adults can now get a COVID-19 Booster vaccine, with 51% recalling that the advertisement motivated them to get boosted.

The Press Partnership is frequently cited as a best-in-class example of government and private sector collaboration that has been rapidly deployed at key points over the course of the pandemic, reinforcing the key behaviours the public should take at each turn.

The Press Partnership provides the GCS profession with a unique insight on how developing and maintaining a partnership between the public sector and media during a time of national crisis can unite us under one mission – to help keep people safe during the pandemic.

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