Metro's softer style sets it apart

After almost doubling traffic to its website in just six months, Metro is set to unveil changes to its editorial content, which will spark fresh opportunities for PR professionals to secure coverage in the free title.

Changing direction: Metro is shaking up its content
Changing direction: Metro is shaking up its content

This autumn, the paper will merge features and arts content to create a larger 'Metro Life' section, bolstering its entertainment and lifestyle coverage.

According to July's ABCs, Metro increased its unique website users by 44 per cent over a six-month period. 'The number of users has risen because we've invested in more and better targeted content for Metro's urban audience,' says Kylie Martin, head of features and assistant editor at Metro.

She says the brand has increased multimedia content within online stories and set up a new comments system that integrates better with social media. The site is also updated more frequently.

She says an understanding of Metro's audience is what will get PR content noticed.

'We are inundated with PR requests, so pitches need to be short, sharp and offer something interesting and new to readers,' she says. 'Our readers want unbiased views and a strong yet quirky mix of news and entertainment. This needs to be easily accessible during what is often the only downtime in their working day - the morning commute.'

Debbie Chapman, head of media and PR at Battersea Dogs Home, says it is softer stories that mark Metro out from the other London free sheets such as City A.M. and the London Evening Standard.

'Metro is a key publication for us due to its reach and predilection towards quirky, off-the-wall animal stories,' she says.

'We've successfully worked with Metro on pieces about Battersea dogs and cats, including our gay dog show and Nancy our sheep-herding chihuahua - a story that had strong video content for the Metro website.'

In Chapman's experience, strong images and heart-warming stories work well for Metro journalists, but she says that they are also impressed by out-of-the-ordinary people, pets and events.

City Interactive's global PR and marketing manager Jon Goddard says the paper relies heavily on PR: 'A lot of its content is taken from newswires but the rest is often irreverent, quirky and easily digestible stories generated by PROs.'

He adds that the website has been successful because it is faithful to the content in the paper - light, entertaining and quick to read.

But despite the paper's easy-to-read stories, Frank PR's MD Alex Grier says its reach should not be underestimated.

'Metro is a powerful medium in regards to its ability to set the agenda for the day's "water cooler" conversations,' he says. 'PR professionals should bear that in mind when pitching.'

A MINUTE WITH ... Kylie Martin, head of features/assistant editor, Metro

Describe the average Metro reader

Metro readers are busy, urban professionals, aged 18 to 44. They have demanding careers and make the most of their free time and the cities they live and work in. They are big internet users, shop online and love technology and gadgets. Cash-rich but time-poor, they read Metro because we reach them in the right place at the right time.

What are you looking for from PROs?

Many PROs contact us with vague proposals and no idea of the type of content Metro runs. PROs should do their research before they pitch - read the paper; tailor their idea to a particular page or section and ensure it's relevant to our urban audience. We work at least a week in advance on most feature pages; 60 Seconds slots are hugely popular and scheduled at least two weeks ahead of publication.

What should PROs not do?

Don't ask for copy approval and don't mislead us about commercial tie-ins. If you're offering us an interview with someone because they are promoting a product or company, tell us.

How does Metro differ from rivals such as City A.M. and the London Evening Standard?

No-one else reaches the concentration of young ABC1 readers first thing in the morning when information is likely to have the most impact.

Average certified distribution 1,373,472 (ABC, July 2011)
Unique users 344,150 daily users (ABCe, July 2011)
Owner Associated Newspapers

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