The North-West means business

This week sees the launch of The North West Enquirer, which claims to fill a gap in the regional newspaper arena by writing for professionals. Hannah Marriott asks how PROs can benefit from the ambitious project

A new weekly regional newspaper distributed all the way between the Welsh and Scottish borders is ruffling feathers. Out for the first time this Thursday, The North West Enquirer is a full-colour tabloid, priced at £1.

Offering analysis and comment - as well as news - it aims to give a North-West perspective on current affairs, targeting the region's estimated 1.3 million AB professionals.

Financed by a mix of private investors and venture capitalists, the paper's distribution deal with the Financial Times makes it available in 6,500 outlets. Its weekly readership target is 30-40,000 within its first year.

As well as regional and business news, comment, arts, obituaries and sport, the 80-page paper includes a few pages of global articles from the International Herald Tribune. Editor Bob Waterhouse explains: 'The Enquirer is for people in the North-West who look around and out of the region, rather than at their own navels - people who do a lot of travelling and are interested in what is happening in, say, Paris or Brussels.'

Impressive span
Available from Crewe to Carlisle - taking in Manchester, Blackpool, Liverpool, Cumbria, the Pennines, North Wales and the Isle of Man - the paper purports to be the only regional covering such a vast area in the UK.

But this USP is problematic for some. Biss Lancaster MD Brian Beech, for example, is sceptical: 'What is of interest in Barrow will be of no interest whatsoever in Manchester or Liverpool. Besides, the region is already well serviced by the excellent magazine North West Business Insider, and very strong regional dailies.'

Indeed, the North-West's daily regionals are among the country's best-read. The Guardian Media Group's Manchester Evening News (MEN) has a circulation of 133,801, while Trinity Mirror's Liverpool Echo and Liverpool Daily Post have circulations of 123,584 and 18,838 respectively.

But North West Enquirer MD Nick Jaspan believes he is filling a gap in the market: 'There are 550,000 people reading quality national newspapers in the North-West, and most of them don't read regional press at all. Of those readers, a high percentage are ABs, which is not the case for most of the regional dailies.' Indeed, according to The Newspaper Society, just seven per cent of the Liverpool Echo's, and 18 per cent of MEN's, readers are in the AB demographic.

The Enquirer's supplements include regeneration monthly Place, and lifestyle offering Time - covering health, food, interiors, fashion and design.

Andrew Spinoza, MD of Manchester-based Spinoza Kennedy Vesey PR, says: 'The depth and analysis promised by The Enquirer is hugely needed. The recent loss of The Guardian's North edition has caused a problem for public sector and arts clients, so this launch is a godsend to PROs who find it hard to interest the nationals with what are perceived to be local stories.'

He adds: 'Although the target circulation is not huge, The Enquirer will be significant when it comes to reputation building.'

Weber Shandwick North deputy MD Julie Cheston believes the paper will offer an ideal way of reaching the business community, because its 'lifestyle sections seem to speak to a business audience'.

Business readers are increasingly sought after in the region. Next week, for example, the Liverpool Daily Post is expanding its business section from 16 to 20 pages. The MEN, meanwhile, recently launched a 22-page weekly business pull-out, and from 2 May will publish 'outer-city' and 'inner-city' versions, the latter supplying 50,000 copies for free.

Corporate interest
Business editor Bill Hall says The Enquirer is aiming to be 'a must-read for the business and professional community' with its business news, profiles, features, columnists and personal finance page. 'This is a serious newspaper, and we want to ensure that financial PROs - who are mostly London-based - keep us informed about companies doing business here,' he adds.

Hall is also keen to interview business leaders when they pass through the area, particularly those who operate in the North-West. He reveals that for general news and business stories, Mondays and Tuesdays are the busiest days, so Wednesday to Friday is the best time to call.

Elsewhere, the arts section is produced a week in advance, while features content mostly comprises classical and pop music, dance, exhibitions, theatre, film and books. Interviews with directors, actors or bands who are touring in the area - ideally arranged at least a few weeks beforehand - would be ideal.

Arts editor Angie Sammons says: 'We are interested in good pictures - sometimes we can use them as a standalone picture caption. We are not purely a What's On guide, and want snippets of gossip and news, too.'

PROs should remember that like the established major regionals, The Enquirer is keen to avoid appearing too provincial. Stories that speak of  wider trends, for instance, will have greater chance of coverage.

Its geographical scope and target readership make The Enquirer an ambitious undertaking. Whether there is appetite for its offer remains to be seen.


Switchboard - 0161 909 0990
Editor - Robert WATERHOUSE
Deputy editor - Paul BLEBTA
Lifestyle supplement editor - Rachael CAMPEY
News editor - David ANDERSON
Arts editor - Angie SAMMONS
Business editor - Bill HALL
Picture editor - Howard BARLOW
Education/health correspondent - Anne ARNOLD
Sports editor - David PRIOR
Government correspondent - Andy McFARLANE
Hard news reporter - Ciara LEEMING
Regeneration supplement editor - Paul UNGER
Web editor - Chris HOKRAN
Environment correspondent - Jason TEASDALE


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