Putting the NEW in NEWspapers: The Philippine Star Story

Known as one of the prominent newspaper publications in the country, The Philippine Star has been continuously making changes and developments in the newspaper industry. Although they have been very successful in the field of print media and still draw a big percentage of its revenue from it, for the last 4 years, PhilStar (Philippine Star) has been rebranding itself through digital means. With the advent of technology, the digital media has been over taking the means of disseminating information and thereby affecting them. Advertising which fuels the income of the company has been declining in print. Most company’s nowadays, uses the digital medium as their means of advertising their products. With that, Philippine Star found the need to venture into the digital media and find ways on how they can address the needs of the companies, at the same time, reach more audiences.

Reliving the past

As an organization, Philippine Star developed programs to come up with effective advertising. It uses the technique of native advertising which is seamless and non hard sell. In 2008, they started to set up a new service called “Engage”, a strategy used by the company to promote sponsors by making it look like it’s part of the newspaper, and publicize brands by presenting it as part of the news feed. In this platform, columnists are given the chance to write their own articles depending on the schedule prepared by the brand media. Also, influencers are invited to promote these so as to help bring content to audience. Likewise, one of the Philippine Star’s main goals as an organization is to be able engage with the audience. This means that they are not only viewing posts, but also sharing it to the public to reach a bigger audience. Since then, Philippine Star was able to penetrate its way to different media platforms.They continued to adapt and develop in the multimedia industry by creating newer platforms through augmented reality, new websites, and new apps.

With the advent of digital advertising, their content creation capability evolved from Engage into a multimedia purpose called Stellar. Along with the objective of following the consumer in every possible touchpoint, Philippine Star was able to translate their content from print media to digital media. This is by the method of creating various platforms that is easily accessible for their target audience. This caused the Philippine Star to rebrand from the Star Group of Publications to the PhilStar Media Group, expanding their print industry to all kinds of media including, television, radio, digital, social, and outdoor. This explains the design for their logo, a combination of different technologies like like smart phones, iPads, tablets, television, and etc. coming together as one.

Continues to strive more

As of now, Phil Star continues to attract new audiences, not only here in the Philippines, but also in other countries. They are still consistent with their strategy by putting their content into the different media platforms such as in Facebook and their Young Star website. With the creation of their various media platforms, Philippine Star’s original tagline, “The only paper you’ll read from cover to cover,” was no longer applicable in today’s modern industry. They changed their tagline to “Spreading credible content from platform to platform.” because they felt the need to adapt to these technologies and continuously evolving world.

Philippine Star Sales and Marketing Director, Mick Atienza said, “We don’t force people, especially the millennials, to read the news. So our strategy for that is to change and adapt to their wants and interests. Thus, creating these new platforms on the internet and expanding our industry, aiming to reach and spread the right content to everyone.”

So far, PhilStar Media Group has been successful with their expansion. As seen from the statistics above, PhilStar received millions of pageviews. It shows how the media group was able to gain viewers and interactions from people all over the world. The Sales and Marketing director even pointed out that PhilStar.com is viewed 15 minutes on average compared to other local websites that’s being viewed on an average time of only 2 minutes. This means that their news website is being consumed for a longer amount of time because of their numerous contents, making sure that despite the fact that people nowadays lack time to read newspapers, they make sure that everyone stays informed with the current events and happenings on our society by uploading these contents on the internet where most of us are connected with.

Given that the newer audience of today’s society are more interested in visuals, PhilStar adjusted to their way of connecting to the people. A few examples of this would be the creation of the PhilStarTV which aimed to bring editorial content to a visual format. In here, their lifestyle sections in print are converted into clips and videos. Their way of shifting their content from print to TV was by getting the columnists who usually wrote about it on the newspaper to step in as hosts. They also rolled out “Viewtorials”, which are basically editorials for brands that come in the form of entertaining videos that will both engage and inform their target viewers, coming in the form of Storified (storytelling through short films), Layman (Information videos aided by infographics), Lyrical (MTV-Style brand feature videos), and Digiserye (Digital Teleserye videos).

The Philippine Star doesn’t stop there, rolling out another innovation created called PhilStar Outdoor. They think that the best way to engage the audience with their platforms and news is to make their content on every possible way they can. Such mediums promoting news content include the LED billboards located along EDSA and key areas in metro manila and PhilStar Newspod available on different malls such as SM, Ayala, and Robinsons.

With all these developments, Atienza called this as Stellar 2.0. This indicated that they are currently on their Phase 2 of Stellar and expect more in the future.

On Fake News

Even if advertising for famous brands is what Philippine Star known for, it is still their news content that the organization emphasizes on. Despite adapting to a whole new different medium, they still uphold to their motto: “truth shall prevail.” As an organization who cares for the society, Philippine Star doesn’t involve itself with fake news. They maintain their credibility by publishing news only from trusted sources. It may be challenging for them considering the abrupt increase of smaller, biased, independent digital news outlets, and considering the fact that everything online happens really fast. Despite the competition and malignant battle against fake news, the publication still focuses on their objectives of staying neutral, sticking with their core, and saying news as it is.

As surprising it may be to others, Filipinos, however, find it normal that the President would blurt out several contradictory statements every once in awhile. But as a publication whom the public trusts, maintaining its credibility is significant to them. As mentioned by Philippine Star’s Vice-President for Operations — Tammy Mendoza, “the main difficulty is covering the cases wherein he says one thing and then changes it to something else. It can get confusing at some point, but The Philippine Star is thankful for a reporter they have, because this reporter has worked with the mayor in Davao.” The same approach goes for other areas, where they assign a writer that is experienced and knowledgeable about a certain situation to work on it.

As Mick Atienza have pointed out, Philippine Star, more than a business has a social responsibility. There could be the existence of other influencers or amateurs who gains a lot of attention from the audience, but their focus is still on themselves. They put work in publishing quality and credible content for their readers. Because in the end of the day, the truth still prevails.

Preparing for the future

Mick Atienza highlighted that they will develop new ways to catch more readers from different age groups. Since there are already existing departments such as social media, circulation, advertising, editorial and finance, the management has decided to focus next on the production side. He said that Philippine Star may soon produce a new department for video production, intending to hire people for their creative services team such as directors, producers, and editors to work on their other publicity materials.

Furthermore, they will continue to adapt on the changes, but would still use their “Native Content Strategy” because this has been their trademark aside from their motto. Newspapers will still be their core business model; while, digital newspapers are just future proof to be able to create a content and audience, according to him. They will continue to prepare to what the new media has to offer because they believe that their credible content is their greatest edge as well as putting premium to the context. Since they target numbers on their social media assets, this is expected to get higher in the future because of the continuous advent of technology. Moreover, they plan to put a one-minute video news with behind the scenes on their facebook page so as to prevent the audience from reading lengthy news and focus on the important information instead. All in all, the STAR’s evolution is expected not only in terms of its print layout, news and information; but also with its branding.