Crain's interview with Arthur Porter
The forthcoming weekly Crain's Manchester Business, the planned regional business newspaper targeting Greater Manchester's upper-level executives and business owners, will be rolled out in other cities across the UK if the Manchester launch proves successful.
Manchester native Porter has returned to the UK after 12 years publishing similar titles in four US cities. He has been appointed by Crain Communications Inc to replicate the success initially in Manchester, and thereafter across the UK.
The Manchester launch date has been confirmed as December 2007, when two issues will be published prior to Christmas. From January 2008, the new paper will be published weekly with an anticipated circulation of 20,000.
“It is not a pilot,” Porter told The Drum. “Manchester was chosen as a prime opportunity for a business weekly newspaper, but if you look at the United States there is one in every city.
“It’s a tried and tested formula, and we’re very confident it will work here.”
Crain Communications is primarily a publishing company with over 30 titles providing news and information to industry leaders and consumers. They claim to be the authoritative source of own-sector news in the trade and consumer market. In the States, in addition to a number of business-to-business titles, Crain publishes four leading city business papers: Crain\'s New York, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.
Porter said the Manchester Business Journal will initially be distributed via a mix of paid-for news stand sales and controlled circulation. With the might of the Crain publishing machine behind it, Porter is confident the title will thrive in its early stages until it becomes fully established.
“I think the resource, commitment and sheer business publishing experience and clout that Crain\'s brings, will surprise and encourage the market,” Porter said. It is planned for the title to be supported by advertising revenue initially, moving to full support via subscription once it becomes established.
Porter was in Glasgow recently, although he denies he was scouting the city in anticipation of a possible future launch. However, the imminent launch of “Business 7,” the weekly freesheet to be launched by Insider Media, The Business Publishing division the Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail may signify the climate is right to support a boom in the business publishing sector, which may have precipitated the rollout of the Manchester title.
Like Crain\'s Manchester Business, Business 7, a free business weekly, will trial in a regional area before being rolled out across the UK if successful, meaning that both titles are on an inevitable collision course to compete for the same market.
Porter acknowledges that he knew the launch of Business 7 was imminent, but says that this had no bearing on the plan to publishing Crain’s Manchester Business.
“We were aware of other things happening, but it was coincidental more than anything else,” he said.
“I have been publishing newspapers in the US for 12 years now. It was just that the UK was changing its business dynamic so much; it made sense that the UK was ready for one, and Manchester in particular.”
\"Manchester was a natural choice for the first UK local business journal, The region has led the way as one of Europe\'s most ambitious and dynamic business centres and continues to ensure that it lives up to it\'s recent accolade as the ‘Best City for Business in 2006’.\"
“If you look at any of the cities in the UK that are doing well at the moment, they are all prospects. At this moment in time we are doing Manchester. We’ll see how it goes from there.”
Giles Brooksbank, of media specialists Feather Brooksbank said any new title faced a number of challenges if it was to be able to sustain itself in the long term, given the limited advertising revenues available in such a niche field.
“Clearly people think there are general business opportunities out there, but whether a 20,000 controlled circulation is sustainable in the long term, we will have to wait and see,” he told The Drum.
“I don’t know how much money they are going to throw at it, which will also be an important factor.”
Brooksbank believes the difficulties in securing sustainable advertising revenue can make launching such a title a stiff challenge. However, Crain Communications is a company with worldwide reach, with offices in Germany, Mexico, Japan and London, as well as coast-to-coast across the US.
Arthur Porter said that Crain Communications – one of the largest privately-owned business publishers in the US, with 29 leading business, trade and consumer publications in North America and Europe – is planning to sustain its UK publishing experiment over the long term.
In the US it currently publishes Advertising Age, a specialist media, marketing and PR glossy for the US market, and is familiar with meeting the needs of the specialist PR B2B readership. The expertise and financial muscle would suggest that Crain’s has the potential to become a significant presence across UK publishing.
“Crain’s communications is investing heavily, and they see this as a great opportunity,” Porter said.
“Historically they are a very patient company. They don’t do things haphazardly. They see things through to the end.”
In the UK, Crain Communications has been established for over 25 years, publishing the London-based European Rubber Journal (ERJ), Urethanes Technology International, as well as newly launched Business Insurance Europe. The company continues to deepen its commitment in the UK with the newly-acquired Croydon-based publications Plastics & Rubber Weekly and European Plastics News.