Last week, the International Herald Tribune (IHT) bolstered its business coverage as it launched a partnership with Reuters. The move came less than two months after rival The Wall Street Journal was taken over by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.
The new section, Business with Reuters, promises more global business and economics coverage, making use of Reuters' 2,000 correspondents across the globe. A joint website (www.iht.com/business ) offers up-to-the-minute business news.
Although the changes come at a time of increased competition, they have been years in the making, according to IHT executive editor Michael Oreskes.
'In today's world you cannot have a complete newspaper without global business and economics coverage - business is what is really driving change,' he explains.
However, unlike competitor publications such as The Wall Street Journal, the Economist and the Financial Times, which lead on their business coverage, the IHT tries to be a generalist paper.
It has been around since its 1887 launch in Paris, where the headquarters are still located. The paper was acquired by The New York Times in 2003, and it uses NYT resources for much of its US-focused news. The paper has correspondents in bureaux across the world - including Hong Kong and London.
Flagship Consulting associate director Clea Bourne has often targeted the paper when working for clients trying to break into Europe. She finds US clients tend to be keenest to get into the IHT because 'they see it as a newspaper read by ex-pats'. However, according to the paper's own research, two-thirds of readers are not American.
Oreskes describes them as 'business and diplomatic ex-pats' from across the world, and 'opinion leaders in general'.
'Many are not native English speakers, but they take the IHT to get a global perspective on the things they are reading in their native newspapers,' he says.
As Brunswick partner David Yelland explains, the IHT has a reputation for fine journalism and 'is read very seriously by the business and political elite in Europe - it is without a doubt up there with the FT and The Wall Street Journal'.
If a story needs to reach a CEO-level audience, one hit in the IHT can be far more useful than selling to various national newspapers, according to Andrew White, a director at Triggerfish Communications.
'The IHT wants serious stories that really affect the financial markets. Clients tend to take coverage in it very seriously,' says White.
Yet many PROs admit that the paper is almost entirely off their radar, and with a circulation of just 242,073, you can see why. But Yelland advises against putting emphasis on circulation when planning a press campaign.
'Anybody who is anybody has a cuttings service and reads all the papers anyway. A CEO will see the story in the cuttings, so it is the strength of the IHT brand that is important,' he says.
What is more, the IHT's website is not password protected and its stories are accessible through Google News, driving a lot of traffic to the site.
As for the regular readers, they adore the paper. It has a cachet that other newspapers struggle to emulate, having been immortalised in Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 Paris-based crime thriller Breathless.
'There is a huge emotional attachment between the paper and its readers, which is very powerful. People remember, believe and cut out and keep the articles they read in the IHT,' comments Yelland.
Lack of bias
As well as the newspaper's gravitas, many PROs argue that a story will generally be fairly reported, because its news pages do not betray obvious political affiliations.
That said, it would be a mistake to think of the IHT as a personality-free product. Its columnists are respected and it boasts strong arts coverage, as well as sports, health, style, books, travel and tech.
Although it is common for the IHT to pick up stories from news wires - particularly Reuters, given the new partnership - stories will be given priority if they are exclusive to the paper.
Oreskes advises PROs to forge mutually beneficial relationships by 'helping us to understand what is going on' in their area of expertise, rather than only calling up to pitch specific stories.
He also recommends PROs recognise that news stories and features alike must 'transcend individual national boundaries'.
'In news meetings we ask ourselves, will this still matter to a reader half-way around the world?' says Oreskes.
Issues currently high on the IHT's agenda include the environment, pan-European economic matters such as immigration and the growth of the Asian economy.
PROs should also remember that online coverage is likely to be even more in-depth than in print, with expanded versions of newspaper articles often available on the website. The paper is increasingly producing audio and video podcasts, so it is wise to aim to have spokespeople available for interviews, and to flag up events that IHT journalists could attend and record.
The IHT is a newspaper worth getting to know and targeting specifically. With such an influential audience, it will repay the effort.
- News, business, views and opinions have daily deadlines, with European editions going to press during late afternoons from Sunday until Friday.
- Eric Pfanner, London bureau chief (covers UK news, as well as media and advertising) 020 7799 5050 email@example.com
- Nick Stout, Deputy managing editor, +33 1 41 43 93 16 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michael Oreskes, Executive editor +33 1 41 43 93 00 email@example.com
- Liz Alderman, Business editor +33 1 41 43 93 00 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Suzy Menkes, Fashion editor, +33 1 41 43 93 00 email@example.com
- Victoria Shannon, Technology editor +33 1 41 43 93 00 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joan Dupont, Film critic, +33 1 41 43 93 00 email@example.com
- Katherine Knorr, Assistant managing editor +33 1 41 43 94 17 firstname.lastname@example.org