Gorkana Meets… Shares Magazine

Daniel Coatsworth, editor at Shares, talks to Gorkana about the magazine’s recent move to digital-only publishing and how PR professionals can help with content.  

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Daniel Coatsworth

What characterises Shares Magazine?
Our USP is the provision of forward-looking investment ideas for retail investors. We also pride ourselves in explaining complicated information in plain English and providing strong opinions on stocks, funds and big issues in the investment world.

We aren’t a journal of record, so you won’t find our digital magazine and website full of stories summarising historical financial results like other magazines and websites. What you will find is actionable ideas, insightful comment, practical tips on managing your investments and valuable nuggets of data that can help you on your investment journey.

We try to keep the digital magazine and website lively and fun to read. Investing can be a dry subject at the best of times, but there is no reason to offer a dry publication. We have bright designs, punchy articles and an energetic small team of journalists who strive to give readers something they won’t find in the business pages of every national newspaper or rival investment magazine/website.

What are the big topics/themes of the moment?
Politics, economics and foreign exchange rates have dominated the agenda for the past year and I see this trend being repeated in 2017. We’re on the cusp of some major changes in the world, so investors need all the help they can get either to understand the ever-changing information or how to stay clam in periods of uncertainty.

We’ve always been big on educating our audience and that remains the same today. Investors need help trying to comprehend the most important bits of news relevant to their portfolio, and they also need help understanding what not to do in the current environment.

We still have to find lots of interesting investment ideas against the backdrop of uncertainty; and I have to say we’re doing a pretty good job as always.

How do you get feedback from your readers?
Social media, in particular Twitter, has opened the doors to a new audience for Shares. We’ve been able to engage with investors who may not necessarily buy investment magazines or subscribe to investment websites. We’re seeing a lot of these people start to become subscribers. This engagement also helps to understand what they want from a magazine which we can then feed into the development of Shares’ website and digital magazine.

We conduct surveys with our readers and we are fortunate enough to have a parent company (AJ Bell) with a large customer base of investors – and it also surveys its customers in terms of what information they want, including feedback on the content of Shares as most of them now get the weekly digital magazine for free.

Furthermore, we run a lot of investor evenings which gives us the opportunity to talk directly to readers about what they like and do not like about the magazine and website.

When are PRs most useful?
When they a) understand what Shares does, b) aren’t calling to ask if we’ve received their press release (yes, sadly this still happens – stop it now, please. We have eyes and can read emails) c) I would rate this the most important of all: when they understand what their client does and why their latest news is relevant to the types of articles we write.

In my opinion, a PR shouldn’t be allowed to contact a journalist unless they truly know what their client does. It amazes me how many people call us with no idea about the relevance of the news they are trying to promote.

Can you name a particular time when a PR helped you to put together a strong or successful story? What did they do right?
I’ve got a lot of time for PRs who are helpful. Despite most journalists moaning about the PR community, there are plenty of PRs who do a great job.

Without boring you with specific tales of helpfulness, some of the ways in which PRs have recently made our lives easier and our articles stronger include: giving us heads-up on news so we have time to do interviews and write stories ahead of embargoes being lifted, regularly being in contact with lists of clients and examples of subjects where they can provide comment, being fast to arrange interviews and knowing the best person for us to interview when we ask for help from a company with multiple spokespeople. The list goes on.

What are your plans for Shares Magazine in 2017?
We stopped printing and went digital in October 2016 so our immediate plans include talking to readers and finding out if they like our new-look product now that it has been going for three months – and then feeding that information back into our development plan.

We’ve got a series of initiatives planned for the coming months to enhance our coverage of the funds, investment trusts and ETF space. We’re also making some enhancements to our website so that readers have even more tools at their disposal to manage their investments and better use our rich archive of stories to help their investment journey.

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