MEDIA PROFILE: Financial Times keeps global standard in place after US arrival

The Financial Times is making its mark in the US, and not just as an outpost for its London base. So pitches need more than a US angle, as the FT looks at business on a global scale.

The Financial Times is making its mark in the US, and not just as an outpost for its London base. So pitches need more than a US angle, as the FT looks at business on a global scale.

A dark suit, a brief case, a serious mien, and a copy of The Wall Street Journal - these are all hallmarks of the image most Americans carry with them of the typical businessman. While the vision Europeans carry with them is surely not much different, there is one subtle distinction: In lieu of the Journal, their businessman carries the Financial Times. As information technology continues to shrink the world and its news cycle, major dailies are attempting to stretch their readership well beyond their home markets. In recent years, the Financial Times (FT) has been pushing hard into the US, where the Journal still remains the unrivaled business daily. Nevertheless, the FT, which always stands out at the newsstand due to the light-pink paper it's printed on, has made some inroads into America. Launched in the US in 1997, the paper is now printed in seven North American cities, and has over 50 full-time US journalists. A 2001 survey placed the paper's daily US circulation at 123,345 - about 7% of the Journal's mammoth circulation, though the FTs worldwide circulation is 453,617. Its online version, FT.com, attracts more than 2.7 million visitors per month. There is still some sensitivity among its US-based staff about being closely associated with its UK roots. "We want to make clear we are the Financial Times, and not the Financial Times of London," says Andrew Hill, the FT's US business editor. "Our competitors are often fond of referring to us as the latter. We do not want to be considered a British publication with just a few American bureaus." The paper says its target readership can be broken into three segments. The first is senior management of big US corporations, including the members of the so-called C suite (CEO, CFO, COO, etc). The second is the "high-net-worth investor" and institutional investors. Third is the political and economic "establishment," or the intelligentsia. The FT is a serious read that offers comprehensive political and economic coverage of every region of the world. The paper publishes editions in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. While one can find a copy of the FT in nearly every commercial center, finding it in smaller US markets might be a bit challenging. There is, however, a significant amount of shared content between the FT's three editions, so a story that runs in the US edition has a good chance of appearing in its very widely read editions in Europe and Asia. Most print content also appears on the paper's website. The FT, which is published six days a week, is divided into two main sections, with a group of third sections rotated in on a daily basis. The third sections, which are often either lifestyle-oriented or deeply analytical, are for the most part edited in London, and thus require making a transatlantic pitch. The first two sections mostly contain breaking political and business news, analysis of trends and commentary, much of which is produced in the US. Pitching the FT might be considered a delicate balancing act. Although its coverage has a significant international flavor, it does not specifically just seek stories with a direct link to its UK base. "We don't want to be pitched to as if we're all Britons in this office," says Hill. "The kind of pitch that begins, 'I thought you'd be interested in this because you're a British paper,' doesn't really wash with us. Having said that, we are an international paper, so telling us about an issue that has more than just an American angle is something that we would recommend." Nevertheless, the US news organization remains "lightly" edited in the US. It's not unusual for a US-based correspondent to pass a pitch on to London. Because all bureaus write for all editions, it is recommended that most pitches be made in the morning, before the afternoon deadline for the Asian edition. Pitches should also be made directly to reporters, so a little research is required to pinpoint the right person. The FT is probably the outlet PR pros want to reserve for their biggest clients. For the most part, the paper's coverage focuses exclusively on multinational corporations. Although at first glance the FT might seem like the ideal place to pitch your midsize client's expansion into a foreign market, or even your new foreign client's expansion into the US, beware. It is also not the place to pitch your client's latest gadget. "People pitching small companies saying, 'You might not have noticed our small company' are not really going to get through to us," says Hill. "Frankly, our radar is calibrated at such a high level, for just the very biggest companies. Also, for the most part, we don't do many product-based stories - unless it's some tremendous innovation that might have big implications for a Microsoft or DaimlerChrysler." ----- Contact list The Financial Times Address 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019 Tel/Fax (212) 641-6500; 641-6515 Web www.FT.com Managing editor US Lionel Barber Local contacts New York Andrew Hill or David Wighton Washington, DC James Harding Chicago Jeremy Grant LA Chris Parkes (FTinLA@aol.com) (For all but Parkes, e-mail first name.last name@ft.com)

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