MEDIA: Pink Paper turns red, white and blue

The Financial Times has long been a British institution, but since its stateside launch two years ago, it has made great inroads into the US market. Claire Atkinson reports on the best way to target this business paper with an international flavor.

The Financial Times has long been a British institution, but since its stateside launch two years ago, it has made great inroads into the US market. Claire Atkinson reports on the best way to target this business paper with an international flavor.

The Financial Times has long been a British institution, but since

its stateside launch two years ago, it has made great inroads into the

US market. Claire Atkinson reports on the best way to target this

business paper with an international flavor.



The Financial Times may be a business institution as British as navy

pinstripe suits and umbrellas, but the newspaper’s Stateside version is

taking root fast.



The tailored paper, aimed at an American business community increasingly

interested in foreign markets, is two years old this month. The UK

edition had been available in the US but was hampered by poor

distribution.



A dedicated US edition arrived soon after tough-talking Texan Marjorie

Scardino was appointed chief executive of FT’s parent group Pearson at

the beginning of 1997. As yet, the FT’s 80,000 daily circulation figure

doesn’t come anywhere near the 1.8 million sold by The Wall Street

Journal, but at least it is on an upward curve.



Strong international coverage



Circulation is up 9% for the half year, and is projected to reach

100,000 by the year-end. The paper is staying tight-lipped about

advertising revenue for the North American edition, although it claimed

that ad sales have risen 87% over the past year. Pearson has such

confidence in the FT’s ability to take on the US market that it is

investing a second 100 million pounds into its international

editions.



The FT’s strongest card is certainly its international coverage, which

is pulled from the Asian and European editions. But the so-called Pink

Paper has not been slow at breaking major US business news. The FT

claims it was the first to report merger talks between oil giants Exxon

and Mobil last November, a deal which later became one of the biggest

business stories of all time. And a current print ad campaign for the FT

pokes fun at rivals, including The Wall Street Journal, for following up

its story about the Bankers Trust and Deutsche Bank merger.



The small US-based team is under no illusions about the difficulties of

breaking US business news stories. Many of the staff are new to the US

market and are up against the huge resources of the metropolitan papers,

USA Today and the WSJ. Investment banking correspondent Tracy Corrigan

says: ’The Journal has a huge metropolitan position, but compared with

the UK, there isn’t a big choice about where you get your business

news.’ The British newspaper market is arguably the toughest in the

world with nine national daily papers.



Wall Street core



Corrigan has seen the FT grow since her arrival three years ago. ’The

financial institutions knew before what we were,’ she says, ’but now I

think we have become a core of Wall Street. People start to notice you

and you get calls and it gets easier and easier.’



Since the debut of the FT’s US edition in 1997, the number of editorial

staff has grown considerably. There are now 25 reporters covering the US

market for both the UK and US editions. However, that means double duty

for reporters working toward two deadlines.



The UK edition closes between 1pm and 2:30pm EST, while the US version

closes at the end of the day. This limits reporters to breakfast and

dinner meetings rather than lunch dates.



The paper’s mainstays are the big- league newsmakers, and it is rare

that deals worth less than dollars 100 million make it into the paper.

However, Australian-born managing editor Robert Thomson says: ’We cover

small deals if they are symbolic. If a small company is doing something

cross-border, it is interesting if it represents a trend. (For example,)

Betty Liu, our Atlanta correspondent, wrote about a Chinese appliance

manufacturer opening up a plant in the Carolinas. We are asking whether

China is going to be the next Japan.’



Thomson has been working from an office next door to the former

Copacabana club on New York’s East 60th Street, but he’s packing his

desk for a move to the ITT building on Sixth Avenue. Now everyone from

the managing director to the reporters will be located on the same

spacious modern floor. They are even changing the funereal music on the

phone to something more hip.



The FT is also bringing in fresh troops. It has just named UK foreign

news editor Andrew Hill as US bureau chief, and a replacement for

Corrigan, who is returning to the UK, will be announced in the next few

weeks.



The FT’s gossip column, Avenue of the Americas, is run by senior

columnist Holly Yeager. She is looking for profile material on

characters in the news and fun stories about personalities who’ve

crossed swords. A recent story about why Canadian media royal Conrad

Black did not receive a knighthood from the Queen was picked up by the

New York Post.



If you’re pitching the news desk, Thomson advises PR pros to contact

staff via e-mail. The most successful e-mail pitches explain why a story

is relevant to the paper in one paragraph. The FT has a fairly open

policy when negotiating exclusives. Unlike its rivals, FT staff claim

they do not threaten to drop stories if they are pitched elsewhere,

though Corrigan advises that non-exclusive pitches will affect

placement.



TV alliances



The marketing department’s vice president, John Lizars, is starting a

new TV and print campaign in September, though Thomson is waging his own

buzz war to support the newspaper. The managing editor’s official day

concludes around 8pm, after which Thomson takes off for a tour of the

media circuit, making speeches, presentations and the odd TV

appearance.



Thomson may pop up on ABC’s World News This Morning or on The McLaughlin

Group. And while Dow Jones siblings CNBC and The Wall Street Journal

have their own editorial information sharing, the FT has an informal

alliance with CNN’s Money Line. If a story is likely to break, the FT

will pass it on to CNN in return for a credit.



Thomson, who launched the fast- growing Saturday edition of the FT in

the UK, has a surprisingly relaxedmanner for someone with such a

high-pressure lifestyle. But he’s not complacent. The challenge is to

increase reader understanding of the American FT. His second challenge

is to ’generate a flow of original content, whether that be scoops,

analysis or expertise you can’t find anywhere else.’ It appears he’s

doing a good job of meeting that challenge.



CONTACT LIST



FINANCIAL TIMES



1330 Sixth Avenue Eighth Floor New York, NY 10019. Tel: (212) 641 6500.

Fax: (212) 641 6515. E-mail: firstname.lastname@ft.com.

Web: www.ft.com



Managing editor: Robert Thomson



Banking, insurance: John Authers



Capital markets: Thomas Catan



Investment banking: Tracy Corrigan



Daily market reports: John Labate



M&A: William Lewis



Retailing, tobacco: Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson



Telecoms: Richard Waters



New York bureau chief: Andrew Hill



Energy, utilities, Houston, TX: Hillary Durgin



Biotechnology, Boston, MA: Victoria Griffith



Computer software, San Mateo, CA: Louise Kehoe



Technology correspondent, San Mateo, CA: Roger Taylor



Soft drinks, Atlanta, GA: Betty Liu



Agriculture, Chicago, IL: Nikki Tait.



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