Regional business magazines started their ascent to greater
importance before the devolution of political power to the regions under
the current Government. But the increased emphasis that Labour has put
on the autonomy of the regions, with the setting up of regional
development agencies to promote their cause, has added to the magazines’
Groups like the Business Magazine Group, which has built a portfolio of
nine regional magazines in the last 12 years, have prospered as the
national media’s focus on the capital and, in business terms, on the
affairs of PLCs, has created the opportunity for regional magazines to
provide local business people with intelligence about their markets.
Last week’s news that the Swedish group Bonnier is to launch a daily
regional business paper in Scotland represents perhaps the most
ambitious plan to date, but the company already has ten such titles
spread across Europe (the most recent launch being in Slovenia), and
believes Scotland can also work.
The newspaper will be modelled partly on the company’s Austrian title
which started five years ago in a similarly-sized market and now sells
32,000 copies a day. It will cover business and other aspects of
professional life north of the border and will attempt to come into the
Scottish quality daily newspaper market above the recently-repositioned
Whether the team can find enough news to fill 40 editorial pages a day
in a worthwhile way, or enough advertising to make money from the
venture remains to be seen, but the fact that all those involved in
regional titles make the same points in their favour suggests that there
is indeed a strong and growing market for them.
All say there is an increased interest in the titles because of a
growing feeling of ’anti-dependency’ in the regions, and that there is a
need for them because regional small to medium-sized private businesses
are not covered by any other media and are not getting enough
information about local trading conditions.
Additionally, those behind the new paper say that the increased popular
interest in share dealing will help it thrive and that, in any case,
niche newspaper titles are those that will prosper in the future.
For PR agencies the launch of Business am and the existence of the other
regional business titles are good news as the editors all say that they
work closely with local PROs and see further opportunities for
co-operation in the future.
BUSINESS IN YORKSHIRE
’We focus on small and medium-sized businesses rather than PLCs. They
are the backbone of the economy -companies with up to 600 employees and
turning over pounds 1-pounds 100 million. There is a wide variety of
businesses locally from all sectors - engineering, finance, hi-tech,
textiles, manufacturing and service sectors. We separate news pages by
county as the different counties have different kinds of businesses.
’This company publishes eight regional business magazines and has grown
fast in the last 12 years. We have a great relationship with the local
PROs - we can’t be everywhere so in order to keep costs down they supply
us with a lot of information.’
Circulation (target): 35,000
’There are a lot of small to medium-sized companies in Scotland which we
will cover as well as politics, law and the media. We will have around
70 journalists including six to ten in London.
’Our research shows that 70 per cent of the Scotsman’s readers have no
interest in business news so they can’t really do more than they do now.
They had a re-launch a few months back to push for the Daily Mail
mid-market - we will come in above them for the top people. Nobody has
done what we are trying to do.
’There is a very good opportunity for PR companies to provide
information and a lot of the ones we have spoken to are very
NORTH WEST BUSINESS INSIDER
’We serve the 15 per cent of people in the region that are in the
professions - company directors, lawyers etc - the business community
across Manchester and Liverpool. Regional coverage in the FT is very
limited - they cannot do things in the same detail that regional
magazines can. This lack of interest has created a vacuum which we are
’In July we have a piece on the corporate elite - 130 profiles of
leading people in the North West. Also, every September we do the North
West 200 richest people. The magazine has a very strong loyalty among
local business people - the readers see themselves as stakeholders in
the magazine. That’s why our letters page is full every week.’
WESTCOUNTRY BUSINESS REVIEW
Position: Acting editor
’The readership is split between those who run small businesses,
employing less than 25 people - about 99 per cent of readers, and those
who run the bigger businesses, but there are less than 200 of these in
the region. There are also all those that provide services like
’A lot of people take it for the pink middle section which carries facts
and figures - details of start-ups, financial results etc. People also
take it for the news - mostly about companies winning contracts and
expanding or laying off people. We work closely with local PROs - many
send material in for the magazine. It works quite well as it is a small
world down here, with only 65,000 firms in the region.’