Call for papers to link with councils to rival PR agencies

Senior newspaperman says publishers could work with local authorities on websites.

A top newspaperman has suggested that newspaper groups could soon be challenging regional PR businesses by linking up with local authorities and creating their own in-house agencies.

Trinity Mirror's editorial director, regionals, Neil Benson told the Society of Editors conference on 16 November that newspaper groups should make the most of their resources and journalistic skills by developing PR businesses to save their flagging revenues.

Benson said: 'The best PR agencies are often run by ex-editorial people. People who worked in regional press know what it takes to hit the spot in terms of press releases and they know how to package it. So why don't regional publishers think about launching an arm's length PR agency?'

He suggested publishers could work with local authorities to provide hyperlocal websites for local communities. Trinity Mirror is trialling this idea with Northumberland County Council.

Newspaper groups that use video for news should also look at b2b opportunities for making money from the medium, said Benson. Trinity Mirror is providing paid-for video as a service to advertisers in some of its newsrooms. He said such agencies should be set up as separate businesses to safeguard editorial independence.

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