Media Analysis: Finance titles aim to capture FDs

Last week saw the launch of Finance Week, billed as 'the first news weekly for corporate accountants'. Ian Hall asks which titles it will rival, whether busy bean-counters need it - and how PROs can target it.

Finance Week launched last week with a bullish anti-spin statement of intent that will make PR consultants shudder.

'For years the corporate world has been obsessed with marketing and image.

This magazine will focus on what matters in the real world where facts, figures and efficacy take precedence over image, style and spin,' thunders editor Sean Brierley.

The Centaur magazine is targeting the bean-counters who make companies' all-important financial decisions - finance directors, financial controllers and corporate accountants. It bills itself as the 'first news weekly for corporate accountants' and is up against titles such as VNU's monthly Financial Director and its weekly Accountancy Age.

Room for one more?

Other similar titles include the likes of three-year-old Caspian Publishing monthly Real Finance and CCH's monthly Accountancy.

Financial News, too, explores issues from a finance director's perspective, including a weekly interview slot - but the title concentrates on broader City news than purely FD-centric issues and is not a direct competitor.

Caspian clearly believes there are publishing pounds to be made in targeting FDs - but what do the other titles believe? Financial Director deputy editor Tom Berry says: 'People want to reach finance directors - they are in a unique position in the firm, they touch on all areas of the business - and it's no surprise people want to move into this market.'

Real Finance editor Richard Young concurs: 'The finance director has become a tremendously important figure. FDs are the key decision makers when you are looking to sell in a B2B environment.' Young insists that magazines read by FDs do not compete directly with each other for stories and angles - instead, he says, they are competing for the busy FD's time.

Brierley acknowledges that his readers are busy people, saying: 'FDs are under siege with issues such as European Union regulations and auditor liability.' And the titles are targeted by PR consultants eager to plug client directors or business ambitions.

Andrew Reid, a director at Fishburn Hedges' financial practice, describes the market into which Finance Week has launched as 'crowded and competitive'.

'You've got the likes of Real Finance, Financial Director and all the accountancy titles - it will be interesting to see how the magazine does.

Its launch is a further indication that the business publishing market is recovering,' he says.

One publishing veteran with many years' experience in the market believes Finance Week is aiming to woo readers from Accountancy Age, which has a circulation of around 65,000 - approximately 18,000 of whom are FDs or financial controllers.

Sizing up the competition

He tells PRWeek: 'Accountancy Age is a broad church and it's a smart move to try and target part of its market. I would expect VNU to respond very aggressively.'

But he cautions: 'This is not a great time to launch, especially against the powerful VNU, and I don't think the advertising market has made anything like a full recovery. But editorially Finance Week is very impressive - this may stimulate the whole market.'

The pre-existing titles appear unconcerned that they could have a feisty rival snapping at their editorial heels, although Accountancy publisher Douglas Broom says: 'We always welcome new entrants and look forward to competing with them.'

The dominant monthly titles inevitably want different things from PR contacts than news-led weekly titles such as Finance Week.

Brierley is clear what he wants from PROs (see box), while Young points out, in the context of his magazine's monthly deadlines: 'PROs coming to us with "news stories" will get short shrift.' He adds: 'Unlike other titles we are not interested in stories on best practice. We want access to an interesting finance director; not a case study on an interesting FD - we want actual access to one.'

FINANCE WEEK EDITOR - SEAN BRIERLEY

What does the mag want from PROs?

Access to FDs. We are interested in those involved with major new securitisations, those doing something special in respect of corporate finance or doing an accelerated IPO on the AIM market, for example. We are generally interested in companies with turnover in excess of £40m.

What do you not want to hear about?

We are writing for a very defined market - FDs and financial controllers.

We will not be writing about self-assessment tax forms and local-authority problems with budget targets.

What do PROs need to note most of all?

We are writing for grown-ups so approach us as you would nationals' City desks - not 'yet another' B2B title.

KEY EDITORIAL CONTACTS

Editor Sean Brierley: 020 7943 8070

News editor Dearbail Jordan: 020 7970 4678

Deputy news editor Naomi Rovnick: 020 7943 8053.

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