Media Analysis: BBC calls out to antiques novices

The pilot launch of BBC Antiques Roadshow magazine broadens the potential readership of the titles that cater for the consumer side of the industry, signalling an increased audience for PROs, says Donna Werbner

For 25 years, millions of viewers have tuned in to the BBC's Antiques Roadshow to watch hopeful punters' eyes light up as their item is valued beyond expectation. The show's enduring popularity has inspired the BBC to launch a spin-off pilot magazine next month.

Yet the antiques market has been rocked by a reduction in American investors since 9/11 and the popularity of minimalist design. The value of antiques generally has slumped, leading most antiques magazines to shy away from promoting the investment opportunities. Top consumer magazines in the sector, such as Antiques Magazine, Antique Dealers and Collectors Guide, Apollo and The Collector, tend to focus on readers' passions and academic interest in antiques as works of art.

Reaching the amateurs

But Antiques Roadshow magazine will bring money back into the equation.

The pilot edition discusses the 'hottest ceramics', with features on 'car boot loot', particularly emphasising rags-to-riches, human-interest stories.

This expands the potential readership of antiques magazines from esoteric collectors to novices who require an introduction to antique buying, providing new opportunities for PROs to reach out to a wealthy, predominantly middle-aged audience.

'The people who collect antiques and read antiques magazines are at the stage of their life where they are prepared to spend a lot of money to indulge their interests,' says Brighter PR managing director Steve Dunne, who targets antiques magazines with holidays offered by his clients.

'When we get coverage in the antiques press we often see a pick-up in sales,' adds Dunne. 'In fact, these magazines often have a better response rate than national newspapers, and yet, if the story is relevant, they are much easier to get in to.'

Phillips Publicity director Duncan Phillips, which does PR for Antiques For Everyone fairs, says the magazines could be used to influence behaviour: 'Coverage will certainly drive collectors to an exhibition or fair.'

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW

Frequency: One-off pilot

Circulation: 100,000 (print run)

Editor: Sue Price

Is there any scope for editorial that is not about the roadshow?

Definitely. Our stories are very broken up and accessible. We want to enable readers to expand their interest in antiques and give each feature added value by having lots of points of entry and information.

What is distinctive about BBC Antiques Roadshow?

Unlike most antiques magazines, we cover modern or weird collections and exhibitions of contemporary collectables. We advise readers on how to purchase antiques and the value of different types of objects. We also like to bring out the detective in people and focus on the human-interest angle, for example looking at how an owner came to inherit an item.

What should PROs bear in mind when they target you?

The show provides the frame for the magazine but we are happy to have chats about the way we are going to branch out from that.

HOMES & ANTIQUES

Frequency: Monthly

Circulation: 141,077

Editor: Mary Carroll

How do you cover antiques?

We perceive antiques as objects to display, rather than to collect or buy as investments. As a result, all the antiques we feature are home related and we look closely at the world of interiors - for example, we might do a feature on how retro is making a comeback.

How does your content differ from the Antiques Roadshow?

We currently feature stories about Antiques Roadshow, but are about to relaunch with an increased focus on the home. While we will continue to cover the roadshow, the material will be exclusive . Our readers are interested in the objects themselves, rather than the personal stories behind their discovery.

What opportunities are there for PROs to sell-in stories?

We have sections on gardens, interiors and days out. We are particularly keen to develop features on trends, such as periods that are coming back into fashion.

ANTIQUES MAGAZINE

Frequency: Weekly

Circulation: 8,000

Editor: John Hubbard

How do your readers differ from those of other antiques magazines?

They are wealthy and well informed. They are looking for specific information, so we go into a lot of detail about specialist fields. Our readers are passionate about antiques for their own sake, not just what they are worth. They do not particularly take to a story about someone who picked up something from a car boot sale for a fiver that might now be worth £500.

What kind of stories are you most interested in?

We cover anything to do with antiques. We have an exhibitions column and events calendar and cover key trade appointments, legal wrangles and record-breaking antique sales. We also like stories about antiques-buying holidays or antiques-show celebrities.

What should PROs consider when approaching you?

It must be from an angle that our readers would be interested in.

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