29 Mar 2022

Media Network: What makes a dream scoop for Sunday Times business?

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


How to get into the pages of the Sunday Times business section

Pete Lambie talks to Sabah Meddings of the Sunday Times

Sabah Meddings is a senior business reporter at the Sunday Times covering consumer, leisure and pharma.

What are the big themes you’re currently focusing on?

Ukraine continues to be a huge story across the newspaper and it’s no different on the business pages. We’re also very focused on inflation – its impact on consumers and business. Outside of that, it feels like there is an enormous amount of pent-up corporate activity – whether it’s activism, or M&A – that had been bubbling away before recent global events.

What makes a good (or a bad) CEO profile?

A great CEO profile is the right mix of personality, interesting insights into the world of business and fresh nuggets about the company. I always sigh when transcribing an interview full of corporate jargon or a CEO hasn’t been brave enough to have an opinion.

Sustainability continues to dominate the Boardroom agenda – what’s the appetite for it in the newsroom?

Recent events mean the focus on sustainability has understandably shifted, given the scramble to look at supplies of oil and gas. However, in the long-term food security and the environment will be high on the agenda – and we’re always ready to call out greenwashing when we see it.

What top three things make a good Sunday Times story?

The dream Sunday Times story is an exclusive on a deal that no one else has or an investigation into a corporate wrongdoing. However, our readers also really enjoy stories about entrepreneurs, exclusive interviews and will look to the Sunday Times business section for the definitive read on the big corporate or macro story of the week. The trick is to ensure that if it’s a story people have been reading about all week, we include lots of exclusive titbits that our subscribers can’t get elsewhere.

The danger of a live television interview and how to deal with it

Writes Charlotte Grant former ITN presenter and now broadcast consultant at MHP Mischief

The brilliant Jayne Secker demonstrated the power of live television when she snared Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Sky News yesterday.

Jayne Secker said: ‘It’s been reported that you have family links to Russia and that your wife has a stake in Infosys, which operates in Moscow.’

Rishi Sunak replied: ‘I’m here to talk to you about what I am responsible for, my wife is not.’

As MHP Mischief media training clients know, the Chancellor forgot one of the basic rules of handling difficult questions. He should have moved the conversation forward.

Instead, he looked like a rabbit in headlights and gave Sky News a moment to savour on social media. Watch the clip here.

For expert MHP Mischief media training contact [email protected].

Newspaper sales fail to recover after Covid but online subscriptions soar

By former Daily Mail executive news editor Keith Gladdis

The pandemic was a frustrating story for newspapers. The appetite for news had never been higher but the lockdown meant people fell out of the habit of buying a newspaper.

The latest ABC data reveals the Daily Mail’s print circulation has fallen below 900,000 for the first time in more than 100 years. Its biggest circulation rival was The Sun, but the red top no longer publishes its circulation (we do know it was overtaken by the Mail in 2020)

All is not lost. The Daily Mail saw a 1% month on month increase in sales from December to January.

But the real rise is in digital subscription across the industry. The FT has reached 1m paid subscribers and the Telegraph boasted 544,911 digital subscribers earlier this year. The Times is another big winner, figures published yesterday reveal digital only paid subscribers increased by 31,000 to 367,000 last year.

New media special  – More superstars to leave the BBC, heading to podcasts?

By former News of the World political editor Ian Kirby

After losing Jon Sopel and Emily Maitlis from its Americast podcast, the BBC is now saying goodbye to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo, whose Radio 5 Live Film Review tops the entertainment charts.

The BBC platform for podcasts – BBC Sounds – has been a runaway success. Revenue from podcasts will top £2 billion next year. But that’s money for the Corporation and not the stars.

Money can be made. Media Voices a podcast that reviews the weekly news charges up to £3,000 for sponsorship even though it normally gets up to a thousand downloads.

It’s also a great opportunity for businesses to get spokespeople heard on a long form format with a highly targeted audience. An audience that’s likely to be far more engaged as they listen on their daily commute, jog or walking the dog.

Substack attracts top writers also seeking to be paid directly for their work

By Abigail Smith and Alan Tovey

Substack, is a media start up that allows individual journalists and writers to make a living setting up their own paid for newsletter platform.

Regional media like The Mill Manchester, journalists like former Economist writer Duncan Weldon and even Dominic Cummings are thriving using Substack.

The onus is on the creator to build a dedicated following willing to pay for their content.

That’s an opportunity for PR. Working with Substack creators to provide content to a highly targeted audience.

Business desks begin to slowly reduce coverage of Ukraine

By Pete Lambie

Movers and Shakers

Abigail Smith

The Times.

Significant changes for the Times’ Business Desk.

Graham Ruddick steps down as deputy business editor, Tracey Boles will come in to replace him in May after her 5-year stint as The Sun’s Business Editor.

Simon Freeman becomes Business News Editor after his move from the Evening Standard earlier this week. Mehreen Khan is now Economics Editor, after after six years at the FT, most recently as Brussels correspondent.


Aoife White becomes Technology and Competition Editor of Politico Europe, after a decade at Bloomberg reporting on competition and technology. Lauren Cerulus has been promoted to Cybersecurity Editor.

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