26 Sep 2023

Media Network: Issue 7, 2023

Welcome to the Media Network bulletin, brought to you by MHP Group. Our unrivalled team of former journalists and media experts bring you the latest insights behind the headlines.


A bigger buzz around Labour conference than I’ve ever known

By Keith Gladdis, former Daily Mail Executive News Editor 

Party conference season has begun with the Liberal Democrats now in Bournemouth before the Conservative Party head to Manchester and Labour to Liverpool. Normally the Tories would go last, but Labour booked the wrong week five years ago which means this time they get the final word.

Claire Ellicott the Whitehall Editor of the Daily Mail explains why it might be a good idea to attend party conferences this year.

How do you prepare for conferences, do you go to all three? 

We spend the weeks before conferences booking meetings with ministers and MPs. Most of us go to the Tories and Labour and usually just one journalist will do the Lib Dems.

This year will be interesting because the Tories are holding their conference before Labour – usually it’s always a build-up to Tory conference.

There is a bigger buzz around Labour conference than I’ve ever known and they’re getting far more attention in the run-up to the election.

What sort of stories are you looking for at conference? 

Conferences are a whirlwind of coffees, events and networking with very little room left for proper news. So much energy is expended on meeting people that it’s easy to forget that we still need to do the day job and put out a newspaper each day. We focus on the jostling for attention among the future stars of the parties and the leaders’ speeches. There’s very little room for anything that’s not political.

Are you looking for brands to react to stories coming from conference? 

The politicians dominate conference, but we would look for brand reaction to policy decisions, or if figures in industry or the union are pressuring the leadership to back something. Rishi Sunak has hinted that he will announce further policy changes in the same vein as the delay to net zero pledges. We will look for brand reaction to any changes.

How important is it for businesses to have a presence at Party conferences? 

Conference is ultimately a showcase, so if a business isn’t represented, it would be easy to miss out on insights into where the parties are headed and who the key figures of the future are. Also, all the most important people in each party are all there at one accessible event and looking to network and hear from essential. I’d have thought it would be wise to be in the room.

Political podcast competition hots up

By former ITN reporter Charlotte Grant

Just in time for the party conference season, the team behind The News Agents have launched a new podcast. Political Currency is billed as a weekly economics show where former rivals Ed Balls and George Osborne discuss money and politics.

They will be hoping to capitalise on the hugely popular The Rest Is Politics, where former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell and former Conservative leadership candidate Rory Stewart agree to disagree amicably. Such is the success of the pair’s on-air bromance, that 18 months since it launched The Rest Is Politics is now in the number 6 spot in the UK’s most popular podcast chart (with other current affairs podcasts like Newscast behind at number 8 and The News Agentsfalling outside of the top ten, at number 12).

With only two episodes under their belts, it’s too soon to say if Ed Balls and George Osborne will be able to compete with Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell’s charm offensive. However, with party conferences in full swing and the upcoming Autumn Statement, Political Currency should have plenty of opportunity to make its mark.

FT named as UK’s most trusted media title

By Ian Kirby, Former News of the World Political Editor

Studies by YouGov into trust and the media have revealed the Financial Times has a clear lead among both the public and MPs

Some 70% of 108 UK MPs surveyed by YouGov  said they trusted the FT. It had the biggest proportion (22%) of MPs who found it to be “very trustworthy” out of all of the 15 prominent outlets included in the survey. Just 12% of MPs said the business newspaper was untrustworthy or very untrustworthy.

The survey shows MPs agree with the public, who also deemed the FT to be the most-trusted outlet with ITN News the most trusted broadcaster in a previous survey published in May.

The second most-trusted news outlet among those MPs was The Times, which was trusted by 63% of MPs and distrusted by 11%. Next was ITV News, with a 45% trust score versus a 14% untrustworthy score. It was followed by Channel 4 News (52% trusted) and then BBC News (48%). Sky News was not included in the survey.

High levels of trust in the BBC were offset by relatively high levels of distrust (21%), giving the public broadcaster a net trust score of +22. Interestingly, in the earlier study of the public, it was the most trusted news brand among Gen Z, who clearly do not class the Beeb as “legacy media”.

Among MPs, the least-trusted outlet was the Daily Mail, trusted by 19% and distrusted by 58%. This differed from the general public, among whom The Sun and Mirror had lower untrustworthy scores than the Mail.

GB News, the newest outlet on the list, had the same untrustworthy score as the Daily Mail but had a higher trust score of 24%.

The Guardian appeared to be the most divisive news brand on the list, trusted by 41% of MPs and distrusted by 42%.

30ToWatch Winner Isaac Crowson on why he’s gone freelance

By Keith Gladdis, former Daily Mail Executive News Editor 

This year’s 30ToWatch Journalism awards saw the launch of the Breakthrough award for people who had broken into the media without going to university. Our winner was Isaac Crowson of the Sun.

This summer Isaac took the leap to become a freelance, here he talks about how brands can work with freelance journalists like him.

Why did you decide to go freelance and how has it changed your working day?

I was looking for a new challenge and running a business has always been something which has excited me. It’s been a fantastic start and I really enjoy it, especially working for a variety of different people and news desks.

I didn’t know what to expect but launching IC Media has been great. There’s a lot of stories out there to find and work to do. No day is ever the same. I am building up exclusive stories and targeting different publications with them as the week develops. There’s more flexibility as a freelance / company director and a very broad range of different stories to find and get to grips with.

How can brands work with you to land potential stories?

I’d say please try and build a relationship. Random, sporadic emails won’t really work for either side. Let’s have a chat about how we can both help each other. The advantage of dealing with a freelance is that I’ve got the relationships already in place with the news desks and senior journalists. I can work on stories and make sure they have the best chance of making the news.

What kind of stories are you looking for?

Anything newsworthy. I have a particular interest in crime, home and social affairs but enjoy any story if it’s got news value. That said, they still need to pass the same tests. They are, is it new? Is it interesting? Will the reader relate to it?

How important for you was it winning 30ToWatch Breakthrough award?

This was incredibly important. It was one of the highlights of my career and helped get my name and work out there. When I won it, I didn’t know I would be leaving The Sun a few months later but in hindsight it was a great way to get my name out there and expand my profile.

How trade media can help reach niche audiences

By Ned Ellison 

Private companies that work with public sector bodies, in the UK or internationally, stand to take advantage of a relatively young media outlet formed in 2020 as the sister title to Global Government Forum.

Hyper-targeted media catering to niche audiences don’t always hold the same appeal as national outlets, but they are indispensable when it comes to landing messages with hard-to-reach demographics.

Led by Editor Ian Hall, Global Government Fintech has built an impressive readership across public sector decision makers in English-speaking markets across North America, Asia, Europe and its home market of the UK. Its weekly newsletter is subscribed to by more than 5,000 senior decision makers.

“We’re always looking for stories from the perspective of the public sector and how different bodies around the world are implementing technological innovation to improve people’s lives.” Ian told MHP.

But it doesn’t always have to be finance related. “We will consider and would love to hear about anything that is genuinely innovative and tech-based from within the public sector.” Ian added.

Global Government Fintech stands to be a valuable and targeted media channel for promotion of success stories with the public sector, which is renowned (fairly or unfairly) as being slower moving and more resistant to technological innovation. If you want to subscribe to its free newsletter and stay across public sector innovation trends, you can do so here.

Super Distrusters vs The Elite – MHP launches Polarisation Tracker Wave 6

One third of British Adults can be categorised as ‘Super Distrusters’, this is according to MHP’s Polarisation Tracker Wave 6. Produced in partnership with the Cambridge University Political Psychology Lab, the report reveals that Super Distrusters’ suspicion of elites is linked to a range of issues, including climate change scepticism and concern about the role of technology. Super Distrusters are found on both the left and the right of the political spectrum and are fairly evenly distributed across a wide range of demographic characteristics. Download the full report here.

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