Analysis: Scottish media demand respect

As newspaper groups launch a campaign to encourage more Scots to read their titles, Tom Williams asks how to target the Glasgow and Edinburgh journalists who often feel ignored by PROs south of the border

Comms professionals in London's media bubble might be forgiven for ignoring journalists north of the border.

But look again at the range of newspapers, radio stations and broadcasters that serve Scotland's five million people and it becomes clear that London-centric PROs are missing a trick.

Scotland has its own national papers, The Scotsman and The Herald, which genuinely compete with The Times and The Guardian in their own right. Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror's sister title, the tabloid Daily Record, dominates with a circulation of 462,814, and Scottish versions of red-tops such as The Scottish Sun abound.

The country also has an expansive broadcasting scene. Industry monitor Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) has 21 radio station subscribers, among the largest being BBC Radio Scotland, with 982,000 weekly listeners, and Total Radio Clyde, with 733,000.

BBC Scotland is cited by PROs as particularly influential. Weekday
audiences for the Good Morning Scotland radio programme peak at 214,000, while on the TV front, the Beeb says more than 28 per cent of viewers (482,000) tune into its Reporting Scotland news show.

'Out of the loop'
Daily Record news editor Tom Hamilton says: 'London-centric agencies don't seem to recognise that the Daily Record is a separate entity to the Daily Mirror. We can share Mirror copy, but we do not have the same communality with the paper as some of the Scottish versions of other UK nationals.'

He adds, however: 'So much of showbiz and popular culture PR is centred on London that PROs in these fields can make the presumption that we will get related stories from the Mirror.'

Similarly, Scotland on Sunday City editor Iain Dey admits to feeling 'left out of the loop' by City PROs apparently unaware of the importance of the Edinburgh-based financial community. He points out that ignoring his paper means missing an opportunity to reach the many Scottish investors who own shares in FTSE 100 firms.

This month, seven publishers and members of the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society embarked on a £200,000 three-month campaign to encourage Scots to read their newspapers to counter a UK-wide circulation decline.

Winners and losers
As in the rest of the UK, the Scottish market for new titles is tough. This month The National Magazine Company pulled the plug on the Scottish version of She. Swedish publisher Bonnier also had an unsuccessful venture with Business AM, the daily that folded after two years in 2002. But Scotland's marcoms community does have its own local title, The Drum.

Regional output, meanwhile, includes Aberdeen's The Press & Journal, which serves the north of the country and is regarded as a big influencer.

Beattie Media CEO Gordon Beattie argues that it is 'easier to "sell in" a story if the person selling it has a Scottish accent'. But he adds that Scottish journalists are receptive to genuine local angles on 'English' stories.

Yet The Herald assistant news editor Matt Roper, an Englishman, advises PROs not to fall into the trap of treating his paper as a provincial read.

'People send us the kind of stuff that would really only be suitable for local and regional papers,' he says.

'We are a serious paper and are unlikely to run the kind of surveys you see in the tabloids,' Roper adds. 'We are particularly interested in Scotland's institutions and legal developments.'

Hilton group corporate affairs director Alex Pagett says: 'Scotland is a breeding ground for good journalists and its geography means that there is a closer affinity between people. If you work at it you will have more success than you would if you were in London.'

The Scottish media are as diverse, patriotic and incisive as their counterparts in London, and PROs would do well to remember that.
Profile, p19; PRide Awards, p32

Scottish media contacts

* The Scotsman (Edinburgh) 0131 620 8505/6
* The Herald 0141 302 7000
* Daily Record 0141 309 3000
* The Scottish Sun 0141 420 5200
* Scottish Daily Mail 0141 331 4700
* Scottish Daily Express 0141 352 2521

* Good Morning Scotland 0141 338 2760
* Total Radio Clyde 0141 565 2345
* Real Radio (Leith) 0845 100 2101
* Total Radio Forth (Edinburgh) 0131 556 9255

* Reporting Scotland 0141 338 2760
* North Tonight (Aberdeen) 01224 848845
* Scotland Today 0141 300 3000
* Lookaround (Carlisle) 01228 525 101

Marketing press
 * The Drum 0141 332 3255

All based in Glasgow unless specified

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