Friday, 28 August 2009

RIP The Londonpaper

For anyone who does not live in London, the announced closure of the News International afternoon freesheet thelondonpaper will not mean much. However for anyone living in London, or who goes to London regularly, the closure will see the end of a product that will be genuinely missed.

The title was launched in 2006 in direct competition to Associated's afternoon freesheet London Lite. This heralded the much media discussed "freesheet wars" and also mountains of wasted newsprint. The circulation of thelondonpaper alone is over 500,000 copies a day and add that to the morning Metro and the Lite and you have way over 1.2m free newspapers being taken to recycling centres daily.

When I was Director of marketing for our London newspaper division, one of my favourite sights was seeing tubes full of school kids reading free newspapers. Ok they may not have bought them but it proved to me that the touted "print is dead" theory is of course rubbish. Print is and will not be dead as that showed. Those kids wanted to read it because it was free, put into their hands so they did not have to go out of their way, and it gave them content in a style that they wanted, celebrity focused with light news digests.

The title had some great concepts, from a column from a different reader every day, to having regular columnist sch as gay about town pushing equality in the capital. Some commentators have said that the closure is no great loss as there was no quality content of note in the title. This i believe is missing the point. The title created a readership from nothing and was well read. Unfortunately that readership does not come cheaply.

The paper has over 60 staff excluding all hose who hand it out daily. That 500k print run is not cheap to say the least and news int announced that it had made a pre tax loss of £12.9m in this year alone.

Questions remain as to whether the London Lite will follow or now it is the only afternoon title it will improve its revenues and consolidate its position. Although i hope that Associated will take advantage of its new sole position and gain enough revenues to secure a long term future for the Lite especially now they have sold the Standard. The freesheet wars have been a brave and costly adventure but certainly it proved if only to me that our appetite to read is not diminished - just in a format we want.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Downing Street and Twitter

Twitter is still managing to achieve more column inches in press coverage than you would expect and many commentators are now praying for the next big thing to finally come along. Just most press agencies go straight to Facebook to lift any photos they can when investigating an individual. So most are now following as many people as possible so they have access to any Tweet that can be quickly used as an unofficial quote.

Politicians especially love this and now you can follow tweets from Number 10, The Foreign Office, the local government department and any number of MP's who want to be seen as "down with the kids". The quality of these understandably vary and so now the government has released a 20 page strategy paper on how to write for Twitter. This has been created by the majestically titles head of corporate digital channels at Lord Mandelson's Department for Business and taking over the world.

To be fair to the paper those companies who are currently paying a lot of money to agencies to advise them on the use of twitter as a marketing could save a lot by finding this on the web. In it it advises correctly that any postings should come from humans rather than dull RSS feeds. That they should be timely and regular at least two per day. They should also be credible and used to present worthwhile information.

Most interesting however is his point about it being used as a minute by minute guide for potential "crisis content". Although this is just a guide once again we have the prospect of Twitter becoming the news service by which people find out first about major crisis updates. If that does happen not only will it close out many users but it will also truly give cause for concern to all traditional news outlets whatever their media base.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

what we think of morgan stanley

You may or may not have seen the swathes of media coverage regarding some 15 year old's view of the world written when he did some summer work at Morgan Stanley. If you have not then you can see the full report here:

Whether you agree with what he has written or not what has been most interesting is the way the media, us included, has jumped all over this report. Like all reports of this nature it is always worth stepping back and remembering that this is one 15 year old's year and may not necessarily reflect the entire world.

However for an amusing take on this you should read the below and the response from your average 31 year old which i do agree with!