Guy Anker, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert, talks about the site’s latest award win, working with Martin Lewis and how PRs can get onto the site.
Congratulations, MoneySavingExpert was recently named B2C Brand of the Year at the Online Media Awards. How did you feel when you found out you’d won and what does the award show about what you all do?
It’s naturally great for the team to win such an award and it’s testament to the hard work and high quality journalism they display on a daily basis.
I hope people notice the variety of what we do. We’ve big, breaking stories such as many of the horrendous experiences of TSB customers hit by its recent IT meltdown.
Then there’s our many successful campaigns – only this week regulator Ofgem tightened energy switching rules after we lobbied for compensation when things go wrong. Then there’s our bread and butter content of showing people the best savings accounts, credit cards, bank accounts and more.
Getting all this right and communicating in an easy-to-digest way is why so many millions of people trust us, but there are also lots of other superb personal finance and consumer websites and newspaper sections to compete with for readers’ attention, so the hard work goes on, and we’ve a fantastic team to carry that on.
Who is a typical reader of the website?
We don’t have one typical reader as our audience is so big and spans many parts of society. But if I was to pick the biggest peak out, it would be 25-55-year-old professionals with spare cash – which may surprise some people.
How big is the team and who does what?
We’ve roughly 40 members of the editorial team at MSE spread across news, campaigns, money, utilities, benefits, deals, features and social media.
I run the content on the website and my colleague Kirsty Good, formerly of Sky and the BBC, runs everything off the main site – campaigns, social media (including our forum) and PR.
Is there any type of personal finance you don’t cover? Which areas tend to be the most popular?
There isn’t much we don’t cover at all, but we are much lighter on pensions and investments compared to the broadsheets. We show people how to invest or get a pension but we don’t go near writing about which funds or shares to pick.
That’s partly because we don’t have that expertise, though that’s a deliberate stance as we are naturally cautious and often stay away from topics where something we write could mean people lose money – and investments carry that risk.
Our most popular articles are on the big money subjects of savings, banking and credit cards. But when a hot deal or trick comes along – eg, our coupon kid Jordon Cox spotting a loophole to pay 1p for Lenor – the traffic goes wild and is the biggest article on that day.
How beneficial is Martin Lewis’s profile when it comes to people viewing the website? Does it add any extra pressure onto the editorial team to get things right?
Martin’s profile is huge for us and he still plays a big part at MSE. As the website is his creation, people naturally associate the two together and that’s great for us as it adds to our trust as so many people trust and value Martin’s tips.
He’s also one heck of a role model for journalists here in how to be an expert but also to get that message across to people in a simple but effective format so it’s easy to consume.
I’ve learnt so much over the years from him on how he gauges what’s important to people and how to turn that into good copy with incredibly snappy headlines or overall message.
The pressure to get things right comes from the fact millions of people read our content, so we can’t be wrong.
What is your relationship like with PRs? And how can they best work with the site?
There’s no one answer as your relationship is always different with different people. Some are great and feed us important info, some are less helpful. The main question I get from PRs is ‘How do we get to feature on MSE?’ The answer is simple – have the best products.
Finally, what are the big stories you think you’ll cover in the latter half of the year?
We will continue to push hard on many of our campaigns where we set the news agenda (eg, fighting hard for mortgage prisoners). Energy switching is a huge issue for households and at regulatory and Government level.
Interest rates will naturally influence what we write about depending on whether they rise or not, and the closer we get to Brexit the more consumer issues will come to the fore.