Crain’s view: how was the new paper received?

Paper Talk

Lorraine Jones, account director, PHD North

As a media planner I feel it’s my duty to have a touch of cynicism about new title launches, and Crain’s Manchester Business is no exception.

The first issue didn’t get off to a great start for me, with a front page headline ‘Nightmare on Oldham Street’, about apparently unsaleable properties in Manchester City Centre, just weeks after I completed on a flat on said street. Quite why residential property prices make front page news in a business title I’m not sure.

Beyond the front page the outlook was brighter, with more substantial and interesting business news than I had anticipated. Focusing entirely on the North West, it showcased the range of talent and enterprise in the region, whilst touching on the

relevance of national and international news on the region. But there was a lot to get through, and you wonder if busy business leaders have time to read the full paper rather than dipping into the MEN on the way home.

The website is easy to navigate if a little crowded, with daily news updates as well as full versions of the stories from the paper. But with this freely available online, is there an incentive to read the paper? What Crain’s seemed to lack was a sense of personality and opinion. House adverts in the title on how to get your company in the paper gave the impression that this was press-release-publishing.

Crain’s selling point is as an authority on business news and unfortunately although the first issue was undoubtedly interesting, it didn’t look or read like the authoritative voice it needs to be. Let’s hope this was just down to being the first issue and that they can build on this in 2008 – if enough interesting news stories keep flowing then there is certainly potential.

Chris Broadbent, managing director, Brilliant Manchester

A welcome return to Manchester for Arthur Porter, after a 13 year stint in the States, and an even more welcome addition to the Manchester media scene – a comprehensive, unbiased and informative local weekly business newspaper that dares to be ‘original and modern’ - Just like Manchester.

Change is good, the established players in the market all follow a proven if rather predictable formula and I for one welcome something new that goes beyond the usual assortment of re-jigged press releases covering off the corporate finance, property and legal fraternity. Talking to Manchester business people about what affects their business, and not much else, is a pretty compelling offer in a marketplace where ‘lifestyle’ aspirations often hamper simple detailed reporting of business issues, lets keep it simple, stupid!

If the excellent inaugural edition is anything to go by, then perhaps in a few years, it won’t just be Manchester that has a Crain’s. For flourishing regional business centres, it should be a winning formula.

Mick Style, managing director, Mediaedge:cia

I’m suffering from an overdose of Strictly Come Dancing and feel compelled to mark everything out of ten, so here goes…

Usefulness: As a product, a newspaper focusing on business in Manchester seems a bit myopic. Interesting yes, but in our business I need a more holistic viewpoint. 5/10.

Editorial: I’ve only seen one edition at the time of writing, but it has strong writing, an interesting angle on stories and encouraging debate. A good first effort and I expect consistency. 8/10.

Online: Any new news based service must have the internet at its heart and there’s a good website as well as the option to have daily or weekly news digests on email, to which I’ve signed up. 7/10.

Competition: Crain’s could really worry the North West Insider and the competition will be good for the MEN. For stimulating the market. 8/10

Advertising: as an advertising vehicle, it appears expensive to us to reach a relatively small business community. The first issue barely had any advertising in it. 4/10.

Commercially: The numbers just don’t seem to stack up. A small circulation and limited advertiser revenue, but well resourced. They have deep pockets. 5/10

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