Media Profile: New fare for the director’s table - Stuart Rock,

A breakaway bunch from the Institute of Directors launched a new monthly business magazine in March this year. Under editor Stuart Rock, Real Business is trying to break through the resistance to general business magazines that seems endemic in the UK’s business culture. So many titles have launched and flopped that it hardly seems worth Rock’s while. Why does he think he can succeed where others have foundered?

A breakaway bunch from the Institute of Directors launched a new

monthly business magazine in March this year. Under editor Stuart Rock,

Real Business is trying to break through the resistance to general

business magazines that seems endemic in the UK’s business culture. So

many titles have launched and flopped that it hardly seems worth Rock’s

while. Why does he think he can succeed where others have foundered?



’Most publishers failed through getting something wrong,’ says Rock.



’Either the distribution or the product or the target market. We have

got it right, we think. Our monthly is a controlled circulation title

reaching 40,000 managing directors of growing businesses with staff of

between ten and 500. The magazine avoids the clutter of the office and

the secretary’s security system by being delivered to the home on

Saturday morning and our team has worked for Director so we understand

business titles.’



But before entering business publishing, Rock owed his start in

journalism to the church. After starting out in PR, Rock broke into

journalism while writing a book on the pubs and churches of Britain

called Brews and Pews.



In it, Rock indulged his two great passions in offering a guide to the

greatest pints and the most unspoiled churches the country has to

offer.



It gave the reader a series of suggestions for long weekends in the

country, moving from inn to chapel and back again, and the writing of it

made Rock a very happy man.



He first started freelancing as a journalist while ekeing out his

advance and was eventually offered a job on the Institute of Directors

title Director, progressing to editor of the title in 1987.



By 1996, Rock had decided to leave. He and six other employees of the

IoD decided to set up their own business, Caspian Publishing, which

would offer its own magazines, contract titles and conference

organisation.



They found backers and established their offices next to MI5 on

Millbank.



Four months down the line, the crammed cover of Real Business resembles

consumer titles such as Good Housekeeping and Tatler, which Rock

acknowledges are as much of an inspiration as US business titles such as

Inc., Fortune and Fast Company. The title has a free circulation and

features a profile, pages of information and tips for the struggling MD

in areas such as personnel, technology and law, a series of one page

features on family businesses or father and son teams and a number of

short features.



’I think the newspapers have killed off the 2,000 word-plus business

article,’ says Rock. ’Our features are sharp and to the point and can be

read in a hurry by busy people.’



He’s trying to switch to paid-for subscription at the moment and is

receiving an encouraging response. So he should, as readership research

for Rock starts at home. ’Basically, I’m at the bottom end of our target

market,’ he explains. ’Caspian has a staff of 17 and we hope to keep

growing so if there’s nothing in the magazine that’s of use to me, I

know we’ve done something wrong.’




HIGHLIGHTS

1987

Assistant editor, Director

1989

Editor, Director

1997

Editor, Real Business



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