Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
This week Gorkana caught up with the editorial team at City AM to hear about the publication’s recent increase in circulation and distribution, the topics they would like to engage with PRs more on and how external comments from analysts and senior City figures are of interest to them.
On the panel were Allister Heath editor, David Hellier deputy editor and Marc Sidwell recently promoted managing editor of City AM.
City AM recently increased its circulation and availability and now distributes 130,000 copies every morning, which Allister points out is more than some national newspapers. Its audience, with an average age of 37, are private sector professionals who work in London and live either in or around London. The paper has now added several hundred more train stations to its distribution and is a marked improvement from its original circulation target of just Canary Wharf and the City when it first launched in 2005.
The increased distribution network has Allister explained, paid off “in a very big way” as City AM is now read at the start of commuters’ journeys. Research for City AM points to a growing number of City workers whose only newspaper consumption is a freesheet: they will tend “to read City AM in the morning and the Evening Standard on the way home”.
The recent expansion in it’s circulation and distribution is part of City AM’s overall business plan to gradually increase the price and volume of advertising the publication receives.
Deadlines are typically very late and therefore very advantageous for City AM explained David. With national newspapers’ last stories deadlines coming in at six or six thirty, stories that come in much later cannot be covered “with as much detail and prominence as City AM”. The 1.15am deadline allows City AM to have the pick of all the best stories, added David, including global ones and especially those from the United States.
The news gathering process is the same as other newspapers and starts in City AM’s case at 10am when primary news sources are looked at and contacts spoken to. Although the website begins to be updated with news stories from 6.45am.
A midmorning news update covering market prices and morning RNS announcements goes out at 10.30am, and has many tens of thousands of subscribers. PRs should be aware that the editorial team compiles its story list for 10.30am and a team conference at 11.15am outlines how the main stories of the day are going to be covered.
A second editorial meeting at 4pm in the afternoon covers off stories that have appeared later in the working day.
There is a very high story count in the news section said Allister - and every single important business story tries to be featured in the paper. The team are very keen to cover their own exclusives but will never give them prominence over what they feel are the biggest stories of the day. Every morning City AM puts together a compendium of all its key stories - mixed with public policy - for a business, corporate, economic and financial audience.
The paper is interested in two types of interview – those from senior company executives and partners of accountancy and law firms; and then those entrepreneurs in business who have set up their own companies, and especially those entrepreneurs from a City background who can provide a connection to their audience. These interviews will be included in the news section on an ad hoc basis. They will sometimes interview senior politicians too.
There is a long waiting list for interviews and PRs should get in touch with the business features editor Philip Salter to discuss ideas and clients they are keen to put forward. Philip Salter also writes his own round up of entrepreneurs in the news and writes on wealth management and personal finance issues too.
Regulatory experts are popular with City AM’s team and experts should get in touch to see where these can slot into the paper.
Lifestyle editor Zoe Strimpel is interested in hearing from experts who can provide interesting insights for how City AM readers can spend their money. Topics include health, sport, fitness, restaurants, film reviews, fashion, books, food and technology.
55-60% of the paper is made up of news and typically includes business, economic and financial stories as well as political and policy news that is relevant to City AM’s readers.
A small advisers section each day reports on the advisers behind big IPOs and deals. Initially advisers were cautious to publicise themselves as having worked on a deal, added David, but are now very keen to appear in City AM’s pages - especially when they see their rivals being named.
The comments Forum is unusual for a newspaper, explained Allister, and they are very interested in PRs pitching ideas from business people with strong views. The Forum has two main comment spaces everyday of 700 and 500 words. The team is open to receiving comments from people who can provide an opinion backed up by research, which is based on a current issue in financial services. A debate happens within the section each day between two individuals on a key financial issue and PRs should get in touch with ideas and business figures for consideration.
The Capitalist section is a lighter and gossip driven City diary which provides a community for the City to showcase charity fundraising events and awards evenings. PRs who can provide these stories, with pictures, should get in touch. Rapid Responses is the letters page of the paper, and is quite small, but the team welcome submissions from people who can write spontaneously on current issues.
There are a lot of comments sections in the paper - and in different parts of the paper - from outside commentators, providing opportunities for PRs to feed ideas in from clients. “We look to add quotes from contacts who can add an interesting perspective,” explained Marc.
Marc also writes a daily Bottom Line corporate comment column which looks at one or more different companies of the day.
Every day the paper runs Analysts Views and PRs are encouraged to get in touch if they can provide two or three lines of comment from analysts on a pertinent business issue. A brokers’ notes section in the paper exists each morning and research that PRs can provide from brokers is welcome.
David writes a weekly comment on the investment banking industry.
Reporters are encouraged to go out every day to meet with business people - the more senior the better. “The key is for the reporters to judge what topics are relevant,” said Marc. The best time for PRs to contact journalists is in the early morning when there is more flexibility and catch up coffees are encouraged every day.
Top tips and future plans
With the Olympics about to start the focus of the paper is on sporting stories around the Games. The Capitalist diary section will provide an opportunity for business and economic related stories to make it into the paper.
Allister explained one of the most important roles he feels City PRs have is to make the complicated world of financial services more understandable. He would also like to hear from companies who are working to improve levels of financial literacy.
Allister would also like to see more PRs engage when “scandals” break, and put more senior executives forward.
More supplements based on lifestyle will appear alongside the paper explained Allister.
A growing number of City AM events are also planned with the paper recently holding a City event with 700 conference delegates present.
An annual awards ceremony will be held later in the year.
The digital offerings of City AM are set to become enhanced over the forthcoming months.