Media: Capture the heart of Middle Britain

Some see it as a route to aspirational consumers, others as a right-wing propaganda machine, but everyone has an opinion on the Daily Mail.

'The Mail is a little like Marmite - you either love it or you hate it,' says Simon Avis, head of PR at Entertainment Rights. 'Most people outside Middle Britain wouldn't admit to reading it because of the politics it stands for, but it has become a talking point in its own right.'

Whatever you think of it there is no denying the Mail is doing something right. The Monday to Friday editions have a circulation of 2.25m and the Saturday edition is selling around 3.1m copies a week - nearly double its sales 15 years ago.

Off the back of this success, Associated Newspapers has taken the decision to increase the cover price of the Saturday edition for the first time in five years, from 70p to 80p,making it 20p more expensive than the Daily Express.

But Avis says: 'The Mail wins hands down over the Express in terms of perceived quality.'

For many PROs the Mail and its Saturday edition are key targets for clients, with the latter in particular offering numerous opportunities for consumer pitches.

Even though it is put together by the same team, the Saturday Mail is a different kind of paper from the Monday to Friday edition. It is bigger and comes with a 90-page magazine with TV listings, features, cookery and gardening.

Matt Bourn, managing director of Braben PR, says the Saturday magazine is the Holy Grail for broadcast clients: 'It sets the agenda for what the mass market is going to watch.'

When it comes to pitching stories, the golden rule is keeping the reader front of mind.

Dan Smith, a consultant at Fishburn Hedges, says that the backbone readership is 'pensioners and women in the 30+ age bracket' so he advises PROs to think about how their story is relevant to that audience. Kim Power, account manager at Resonate PR, found playing on the Mail's fondness for female-friendly stories helped her place a story for a luxury car insurance client.

'The story we pitched looked at the effect of the sound of luxury car engines on testosterone levels. The client wanted to target The Daily Telegraph but the Mail is really a happy medium between a broadsheet and a tabloid.' Other editorial favourites include celebrity and picture-led stories, human interest and health.

Bourn recalls successfully pitching a media agency's research story using an image of Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley.

Avis adds: 'The Mail tends to take stories that have strong research but as long as it has human interest appeal, it will tick some of the boxes.'

Circulation: 2.25m Monday-Friday editions, 3-3.1m Saturday edition
Contacts: Editor Paul Dacre, News & features


The Mail doesn't allow its staff to be named when talking to other media, but PR Week grabbed a minute with a senior member of the editorial team.

- Who reads the Mail?

Broadly speaking, it is a middle-class readership and we have a high proportion of women readers. We're talking middle-class, upmarket readers, particularly women, families with aspirations, and people who run businesses and want to improve their circumstances.

- What makes a good Mail story?

We carry a broad range of stories, some of which are uniquely Daily Mail and some you might also find in other publications. The key thing is that our stories are about people - it's no use if stories can't be told through people.

- Any final tips for PROs?

It's up to PROs to find someone who will respond to what they are saying. For the Saturday magazine, the lead time is usually a couple of weeks. A lot of our stories, however, are nothing to do with PR.

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