How best to deal with the Pink 'Un

First printed on its distinctive salmon-coloured paper in 1893, the Financial Times these days reaches far beyond the Square Mile, with editions tailored not only to the UK but to the US, Europe, Asia and, most recently, the Middle East.

Such global ambition seems to be paying dividends for the paper once dubbed the 'parish magazine' of the City: publisher FT Group, part of Pearson, recorded an 11 per cent year-on-year rise in revenue for the first nine months of 2008.

And it is not just its financial stock that is rising. The FT was named newspaper of the year at the 2008 British Press Awards, September's print circulation was up 12.3 per cent month on month in the UK, and unofficial figures suggest a spike in traffic to over the past few weeks.

Although FT editor Lionel Barber is loath to admit bad news has helped his paper, the global financial crisis seems to be doing it some favours.

Content, from its agenda-setting Lex column to meat-and-potatoes coverage of stocks and shares, already makes the FT the 'must read' for many business audiences.

But with specialists covering a range of arcane financial areas, it is better-placed than any UK paper to explain what is happening - and the paper's stars, such as credit expert Gillian Tett and veteran economics commentator Martin Wolf, have been doing just that with cool, clear analysis in rounds of media interviews.

This all means that for PROs from Washington to London, Dubai and Beijing, the FT's appeal remains undimmed. But Barber has some clear ground rules: always pitch to the specialist reporter who covers your area; never pitch to Barber or to news editor Robert Shrimsley; and don't pitch in the late afternoon or evening unless the story is big.

Remember that the FT is not just about news. 'The opinion and editorial team are happy to hear from PROs acting on behalf of authors or commentators,' Barber points out. And for feature ideas such as profiles of companies or people, the first port of call should be the Business Life section.

Gay Collins, chief executive of Penrose Financial, says: 'The FT does have a reputation for having bright journalists who wouldn't suffer fools, but that doesn't mean they are not approachable. If you have good ideas, I would encourage PROs not to be intimidated. But we encourage clients to remember that not all their target audience will read the FT.'

It is perhaps an overlooked point: despite the FT's "Holy Grail" status, there may be better, more niche publications for PROs who want to move a small or medium firm's share price, says Sam Robbins, director of City and corporate at Redleaf Communications. But she adds: 'In terms of satisfying a client, it is still viewed as the place to be seen.'


Circulation: 429,381 (ABC)
Staff: 1,600 globally, (1,200 in London) with 500 journalists
Worldwide: five editions printed in 24 cities
Unique users per month: 7.4 million (FT)


Main news desk:
UK news:
Business Life:
Op ed:


A MINUTE WITH ... Lionel Barber, editor, Financial Times

- Have you benefited from the current financial turmoil?

We have covered this crisis with a greater depth and authority than anyone else. We had a very technical story about how sub-prime mortgages translated into a banking crisis that seems now to be leading to a sharp slowdown. That plays to our strengths; that's why people come to us and why we're benefiting.

- Are you open to ideas from PROs?

We don't have the monopoly on wisdom so we're very open to pitches. It is best not to pitch to me (I already get 250 emails a day) and it is a good idea for PROs not to approach the news editor or his deputy - their job is to look after journalists. It's better to pitch in the morning, by email, to the reporter who covers the beat.

- What sort of story ideas interest you?

We are a premium product with a global audience. We are interested in companies that have global exposure, but we also want to cover UK companies better than anyone else. And we're going to explain the post-crash world.

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