Media: The Table offers a tasty opportunity

When The Times' weekly food supplement The Table launched in March, it faced tough competition from well-established and popular national food sections.

But just a couple of months in, specialist food PROs believe it is already a serious player in the sector and a great target for clients.

'The arrival of The Table on Thursdays has created a great focal point for food coverage in The Times,' says Story PR's founder, Ailana Kamelmacher. 'In the past couple of years The Daily Telegraph and The Independent have been leading the way in terms of food, but The Table puts the paper back on the map as a broadsheet taking food very seriously,' she says.

The Times' associate features editor, Shaun Phillips, says the supplement is aimed at readers who take pleasure from both eating and cooking food. He aims for balance, trying to make the title both informative and entertaining in equal measure. This manifests itself in features ranging from practical recipes like Lindsey Bareham's Week in Recipes section to Heston Blumenthal's musings about 'the outer reaches of the food galaxy'.

The good news for PROs is that the supplement is brimming with PR-friendly sections such as Dine In, in which celebrities are interviewed about their home cooking style, a restaurant review and several features.

Phillips says PROs can help by highlighting new restaurants and keeping his journalists up to date with the latest gadgets, important news and trends within the food and restaurant industries. He also highlights the celebrity slots in the magazine: 'Publicists looking after personalities not usually associated with food can find a new outlet for their talent,' he says.

As well as celebrity interviews, Nourish PR founder Hannah Norris believes the broader profile opportunities are fertile ground for PROs. 'I like the Producer slot, which helps to showcase those people who work hard to produce good food in the UK,' she says.

The supplement also has features outside of interview slots. Norris says The Table 'has captured "the next hot thing" really well. Its scoop on the "Whoopies" on 15 April led to loads of copycat pieces.'

Meanwhile, Phipps PR MD Nicky Forrest says the journalists are keen to provide more general insight and commentary into the food and drink world.

'If you have a unique and creative proposition, there are plenty of opportunities for features, as we found with Jersey Royal potatoes. The Table team accompanied us on a trip to Jersey to learn more about the product and the growers. This resulted in a great two-page story showcasing the best of British produce,' she says. She adds that the journalists are approachable, credible and work quickly with PROs.

As Kamelmacher says, given the breadth of topics and the large reach of the supplement, PROs 'should watch out for opportunities'.

QUICK FACTS

Readership: 517,446 (ABCs Nov 09-April 10)

Press day: Wednesday.

The supplement comes out on Thursday

Online charges: The Times will start charging for online content from June. Readers will be offered a week's subscription for £2 or a day's access for £1.

Contact: shaun.phillips@thetimes.co.uk 020 7782 5000

A MINUTE WITH ... Shaun Phillips, associate features editor, The Times

- What do you enjoy about working on The Table?

I used to work on music magazines, where there always seemed to be a mythical gulf between those who were making the music and those who enjoyed listening to and reading about it. One of the most satisfying things about working on The Table is that, in a kitchen, everyone can make music.

- How does the supplement fit in with the website content?

The Times is undergoing exciting changes at the moment and, going forward, I think you can expect to see an increased synergy between newspaper and online content, with additional exclusive material online.

- How does the weekly supplement fit in with the Saturday food and drink coverage?

Seamlessly. I guess one analogy would be a Formula 1 Racing Team. We're owned by the same company, we carry the same livery and we support one another, but each has a different driver trying to win the same race. I'd like us to be thought of as the Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton of food and drink journalism, but given the current standings, maybe we should aspire to being Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

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