Platform profile: PA Explore draws in words, pictures and video

PA’s new Explore platform has transformed the UK’s biggest news wire service into a one-stop shop for news content for the first time, drawing copy, pictures and videos together.

Explore rolled out this year, accelerated by the coronavirus crisis. It is now subscribed to by a total of 94 publications which together employ more than 6,000 journalists.

“This is a platform which you can access on your PC, or on your mobile or tablet, where you can see all of our content,” said PA editor-in-chief Pete Clifton.

While the PA Wire has been serving publishers for decades, “it didn’t do anything like as much to join all of our content together like this”, Clifton added of Explore, which won the Award for Excellence in News Agency Quality at the European Alliance of News Agencies awards this year.

Clifton said the service had become an even more important service as journalists moved to home working during the crisis, where they can continue to access it online even if previously it they received the wire direct to their in-office content management systems.

The basics

PA Explore
What is it? Newswire platform from PA
Where is it available? Online (mobile-friendly)
How much does it cost? Subscriptions vary
Audience size 6,000+ journalists
Publications on board? 94 (
Pros for publishers? Fast, reliable news service
Cons for publishers? Not cheap and doesn’t cover niche topics

How it works

PA has some 300 staff, the vast majority of whom are editorial. It produces thousands of stories and pictures every day, most of which is original content from its own team of journalists working around the clock.

Clifton said: “There’s an immense body of content that is unparalleled, I would suggest, and when you think about the sheer volume of content that’s really where this platform comes into its own, because it does allow complete visibility over all the things we’ve done.”

Explore has three core parts:

Create – News wire content, including diaries and the ability to set up email notifications

Now – Customisable breaking news feeds with desktop alerts

Ready – Ready-made content for publication, from news to sci-tech

Each user is given an individual login for the platform which means they can tailor it to their needs, which Clifton described as a “significant step forward”.

“Everything that’s visible on the platform is available to that because we know who they are and what they’re entitled to so we really just open a window on everything they can use,” he said.

Show me the money

PA Explore is a subscription wire service. “All of our money comes from subscriptions broadly,” said Clifton.

Although it receives a share in the ad revenue from its video content on select websites, there is no kickback on content for publishers themselves who are simply paying for its service. “We don’t sell advertising ourselves,” added Clifton. “It’s all about the content for us.”

Publishers, who range from local weekly newspapers to national daily operations, pay a fee according to the amount of content they take.

The pros

Like having another experienced player on hand, PA delivers a fast and reliable news service. Now it can be accessed online anywhere and on any device.

The cons

Access to PA, while tiered, is not cheap. It also tends to focus on national news, sport and entertainment and so is unlikely to cover niche subjects for specialist publications.

The verdict

PA Explore brings the 150-year-old UK news wire into the digital age, with a mobile-friendly site and feeds that can be tailored to a journalist or publisher’s needs – plus alerts. It offers a comprehensive service that is now available even to journalists who are remote working.

Clifton said the platform would allow PA to have a “more informed discussion” around the things that are working for customers, and the things that aren’t.

He added: “The crucial thing is that this isn’t just a new platform we’ve lobbed over the fence and we’ll go on and do something else now, we will be watching very closely to see how engagement grows and see what else we can do,”

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