MEDIA REGIONAL BUSINESS PRESS: Tapping the new provinces of business - The growing importance of the regional business press has been magnified by the advent of a daily business newspaper for Scotland

Regional business magazines started their ascent to greater importance before the devolution of political power to the regions under the current Government. But the increased emphasis that Labour has put on the autonomy of the regions, with the setting up of regional development agencies to promote their cause, has added to the magazines’ impetus.

Regional business magazines started their ascent to greater

importance before the devolution of political power to the regions under

the current Government. But the increased emphasis that Labour has put

on the autonomy of the regions, with the setting up of regional

development agencies to promote their cause, has added to the magazines’

impetus.



Groups like the Business Magazine Group, which has built a portfolio of

nine regional magazines in the last 12 years, have prospered as the

national media’s focus on the capital and, in business terms, on the

affairs of PLCs, has created the opportunity for regional magazines to

provide local business people with intelligence about their markets.



Last week’s news that the Swedish group Bonnier is to launch a daily

regional business paper in Scotland represents perhaps the most

ambitious plan to date, but the company already has ten such titles

spread across Europe (the most recent launch being in Slovenia), and

believes Scotland can also work.



The newspaper will be modelled partly on the company’s Austrian title

which started five years ago in a similarly-sized market and now sells

32,000 copies a day. It will cover business and other aspects of

professional life north of the border and will attempt to come into the

Scottish quality daily newspaper market above the recently-repositioned

Scotsman.



Whether the team can find enough news to fill 40 editorial pages a day

in a worthwhile way, or enough advertising to make money from the

venture remains to be seen, but the fact that all those involved in

regional titles make the same points in their favour suggests that there

is indeed a strong and growing market for them.



All say there is an increased interest in the titles because of a

growing feeling of ’anti-dependency’ in the regions, and that there is a

need for them because regional small to medium-sized private businesses

are not covered by any other media and are not getting enough

information about local trading conditions.



Additionally, those behind the new paper say that the increased popular

interest in share dealing will help it thrive and that, in any case,

niche newspaper titles are those that will prosper in the future.



For PR agencies the launch of Business am and the existence of the other

regional business titles are good news as the editors all say that they

work closely with local PROs and see further opportunities for

co-operation in the future.





BUSINESS IN YORKSHIRE



Position: Editor



Frequency: Monthly



Circulation: 10,000





’We focus on small and medium-sized businesses rather than PLCs. They

are the backbone of the economy -companies with up to 600 employees and

turning over pounds 1-pounds 100 million. There is a wide variety of

businesses locally from all sectors - engineering, finance, hi-tech,

textiles, manufacturing and service sectors. We separate news pages by

county as the different counties have different kinds of businesses.



’This company publishes eight regional business magazines and has grown

fast in the last 12 years. We have a great relationship with the local

PROs - we can’t be everywhere so in order to keep costs down they supply

us with a lot of information.’





BUSINESS AM



Position: Editor



Frequency: Daily



Circulation (target): 35,000





’There are a lot of small to medium-sized companies in Scotland which we

will cover as well as politics, law and the media. We will have around

70 journalists including six to ten in London.



’Our research shows that 70 per cent of the Scotsman’s readers have no

interest in business news so they can’t really do more than they do now.

They had a re-launch a few months back to push for the Daily Mail

mid-market - we will come in above them for the top people. Nobody has

done what we are trying to do.



’There is a very good opportunity for PR companies to provide

information and a lot of the ones we have spoken to are very

excited.’





NORTH WEST BUSINESS INSIDER



Position: Editor



Frequency: Monthly



Circulation: 16,000





’We serve the 15 per cent of people in the region that are in the

professions - company directors, lawyers etc - the business community

across Manchester and Liverpool. Regional coverage in the FT is very

limited - they cannot do things in the same detail that regional

magazines can. This lack of interest has created a vacuum which we are

filling.



’In July we have a piece on the corporate elite - 130 profiles of

leading people in the North West. Also, every September we do the North

West 200 richest people. The magazine has a very strong loyalty among

local business people - the readers see themselves as stakeholders in

the magazine. That’s why our letters page is full every week.’





WESTCOUNTRY BUSINESS REVIEW



Position: Acting editor



Frequency: Monthly



Circulation: 12,000





’The readership is split between those who run small businesses,

employing less than 25 people - about 99 per cent of readers, and those

who run the bigger businesses, but there are less than 200 of these in

the region. There are also all those that provide services like

consultants etc.



’A lot of people take it for the pink middle section which carries facts

and figures - details of start-ups, financial results etc. People also

take it for the news - mostly about companies winning contracts and

expanding or laying off people. We work closely with local PROs - many

send material in for the magazine. It works quite well as it is a small

world down here, with only 65,000 firms in the region.’



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