Get personal over money matters

Personal finance has shed its stuffy image and crossed over to mainstream media. In the week that Gordon Brown delivers his tenth Budget, Alex Black asks what makes it onto the pages of personal finance mags

Personal finance is big news. Ten years ago someone under the age of 50 talking about pensions might have attracted suspicious looks.

But now it is not abnormal for 30-somethings to discuss ISAs in the pub.

With the Budget unveiled this week and deregulation of the pensions market coming into effect next month, now is a good time to get on the right side of the personal finance media.

'The language of personal finance in the media has changed over the past few years,' says Neil Mainland, managing director of Mainland PR. 'You would not have seen a story on pensions on the front page of the Daily Mail five years ago. The Government has also tried to make people better aware, as has the BBC. You'll even hear consumer finance being talked about on Radio Five Live these days.'
For PROs working in the sector, the best opportunities for coverage come from monthly stalwarts such as Money Observer, Bloomberg Money, Moneywise and What Investment, plus online media such as Thisismoney.

The nationals all tackle personal finance with varying degrees of depth, with the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday's Money Mail feeding the Thisismoney website. The nationals are more 'newsy and aggressive', says Mainland, with MoS personal finance editor Jeff Prestridge, for example, renowned for his campaigns on consumer finance issues. 'The monthlies tend to concentrate on ways for people to make money,' Mainland explains.

Print and web resources
Another senior PRO is more candid: 'Bloomberg Money is the strongest title, Money Observer is a quality offering while What Investment feels tired and needs, well, investment. Moneywise is more general, and will cover pet insurance as well as life insurance.

Thisismoney is important for younger consumers but middle-aged and older readers still like to get their info from print media.'

Quill Communications managing director Fiona Harris notes that people have started to think more seriously about their financial future. 'The penny has dropped with Joe Public,' she says. 'These days people are aware of the difference between "need to have" investments such as pensions, and "nice to have" investments that increase their disposable income.'

Julian Marr, group editor and publisher of Bloomberg Money, outlines his magazine's stance on this topic. 'Editorially we are into making, rather than saving, money,' he says. 'We have an investment focus, which aims to enable people to talk to financial advisers, rather than a consumer finance focus, which is more about trying to save £20 on the gas bill.' Marr adds that his title's readers are 'serious investors and people coming in to look around. Anecdotal evidence suggests that financial advisers read it too, because we provide a good round-up'.

So how can PROs get their clients noticed by financial editors? 'We'll
often send background stuff to journalists just to build relationships,'
says Phoenix Financial PR managing director Gordon Puckey. 'But it is vital to offer market perspective. Fund management, for example, is essentially a snapshot of what's going on in the world, and columnists and editors therefore tend to take a macro view.'

Puckey points to media scare stories about the Japanese market's supposed imminent decline earlier in the year. 'We got our man there to put a couple of paragraphs on the web disputing [the scaremongering], using examples from our clients,' he explains.

'They ended up being used in a feature in Money Observer.'

Thisismoney editor Andrew Oxlade says personal finance has accrued more importance because more people appreciate how it affects their day-to-day lives – something that PROs should think about when pitching products. 'PROs should look at market perspectives and trends, and aim to supply us with case studies if possible,' he advises.

Mainland agrees that the personal angle gets coverage: 'We get freelancers from the nationals calling us all the time for case studies. Showing how real people can use products to save or make money is strong currency for getting coverage,' he reveals.

Range of subjects
Like Bloomberg Money, What Investment editor Martin Fagan says his title is 'about investments rather than savings. The next issue has features on ethical investments, where to put £50 a month, best-kept secrets in the funds market and how to pick funds'.

He adds: 'I want to hear about anything to do with the investment market, and if I think you understand the magazine and the market, I'll send you our forward features list.'

The main readers in this market are 45 to 65-year-olds, but Oxlade says Thisismoney attracts a fair number of 20-somethings too: 'We estimate that half of our 500,000 readers don't read the Mail or Mail on Sunday, so although we have their resources, we stand up on our own.'

Personal finance media: editorial contacts

Money Observer
Editor: Andrew Pitts
Deputy editor: Moira O'Neill
News editor: Mark King
Contact: 020 7278 2332, or email firstname.surname@guardian.co.uk
Publisher: Guardian Newspapers
Circulation: 24,064

What Investment
Editor: Martin Fagan (020 7827 5458; mfagan@ccplcemail.co.uk)
Publisher: Charterhouse Communications Group
Circulation: 25,000

Bloomberg Money
Group editor and publisher:
Julian Marr (020 7484 9700; julian.marr@incisivemedia.com)
Incoming associate editor: Sarah Godfrey (020 7484 9700; sarah.godfrey@incisivemedia.com)
Publisher: Incisive Media
Print run: 22,600

Moneywise
Editor: Emma-Lou Montgomery (020 7382 4300; emma-lou.montgomery@moneywise.co.uk)
Publisher: Moneywise Publishing
Circulation: 38,975

Thisismoney.co.uk
Editor: Andrew Oxlade
(020 7938 7736; andrew.oxlade@
thisismoney.co.uk)
Publisher: Associated Newspapers
Usage: 500,000 users; one  million visits per month

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