Posts Tagged ‘uk media’

MHP Mischief Media Network: The Daily Mirror’s Graham Hiscott on what he wants in a story

Posted on: July 20th, 2022 by Tomas White


Shade needs to be balanced with light

After more than two years of near-constant heavy news, PRs would be forgiven for wondering if there is now less space for lighter, brand-led content. The past few weeks have been no different, with Boris Johnson’s resignation and the resulting Tory leadership contest.. But Graham said editors are always looking to balance ‘the light and the shade’ within the paper, meaning there is always a place for a positive, light-hearted stories.

In fact, if could even be worth actively pitching them ahead of a heavy news day, as it’s just what many news and business desks may be after.

Be human

The best stories are human stories, says Graham. They need to be relevant and relatable. A good case study can be the difference between a nib and a page lead, so brands should consider them as a central part of any story, not an afterthought.

The same goes for profile pieces. Graham and his team want to hear from business leaders, especially those from humble beginnings with a story to tell. His readers aren’t interested in corporate speak and stuffy messaging, they want to read about aspirational stories from people they can relate to.

Cost-of-living stories should be advice-led

Graham predicts October’s rise of the energy price gap will turn the cost-of-living crisis will into the dominant news story once again. He is constantly looking for new ways to help his readers save money and get on top of their personal finances, so tips-led stories will always grab their attention.

Graham also writes a column every Monday which he described as an ‘open goal’ for PRs with commentary or advice to land. Op-eds rarely get a look in at the Mirror unless attributed to a very well known figure, such as a politician, so the column can be a good alternative.

Bringing back the sustainability agenda 

The pandemic hit at an unfortunate time for the green agenda, just as it was really making headway. Since then, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, Russia-Ukraine conflict – not to mention the developments at Number 10 – has made it even harder for sustainability stories to carry the same weight in the paper.

The Mirror has always been supportive of the green agenda, and Graham is eager to see its return. However, stories must work for his audience. Mirror readers are unlikely to be shopping for new EVs or investing in expensive green tech, but if there is something that can help them go greener at little cost or convenience, then it could be a winner

A picture can tell a thousand words

Pictures can make or break a business story. If a story comes with great images, you will have two people pushing for it in an editorial meeting (Graham and the picture editor), so it will always have a much better chance of making the final cut.

Graham says it’s always worth considering commissioning your own pictures to give a story an extra boost, and save the picture desk going to a picture wire. If you can combine a tips-led piece with a strong case study and a compelling image, you’re on to a winner.

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

Posted on: March 29th, 2022 by Tomas White

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

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.

Moving on: Dan Jones on his new role at the Mail on Sunday

Posted on: March 16th, 2022 by Tomas White

Dan spoke exclusively to MHP Mischief’s James Rollinson at a breakfast event at the Ivy Club in Soho.

Cost of living set to dominate the news agenda

Dan says the cost of living crisis will continue to dominate the media in 2022 – particularly what it means for consumers and their spending habits. He wants to hear from brands and organisations that have propositions in place to look after their consumers, including deals and support payment plans. He has a word of advice for companies who are increasing their prices – be honest! Consumers and journalists will always find out, so businesses should proactively communicate price changes and their justification for the increase.

Campaigns a priority

Campaigns will be a major focus for the Mail on Sunday and he is looking out for issues to focus on and brands to partner with. Dan stressed the importance of focusing on issues that directly affect the Mail on Sunday’s slightly older readership, and urged any brands contacting him to think big. Dan cautioned brands they shouldn’t expect to be front and centre of a campaign, but there is absolutely scope to work together on important issues.

Research your research

Dan’s not a fan of survey stories saying too many were obvious and self-serving. To be effective Dan says consumer research needs to tell a wider story and reveal a genuinely new trend or insight. One example was a survey story he received a few years ago about how the contents of a school lunchbox had changed over the past 20 years, which Dan complimented for being interesting and different. Dan also added that research can be effective when used to give further insight into a brand’s proprietary data.

Early exclusives key to coverage

Dan also explained the different pressures of working for a weekly operation. The Sunday papers are trailblazers, setting the dialogue and news agenda for the week ahead and as such, all stories should be exclusive and pitched early. Dan ideally wants to be pitched ideas on a Monday or Tuesday so he has sufficient time to investigate, analyse data, source additional information and work with PRs on the messaging. As paper fills up towards the back end of the week it becomes much trickier for brands and stories to make the Sunday paper.

Time to get out and meet again

In news that will no doubt be music to PR ears, Dan stressed how keen he is to get back out to meet contacts in person again. While Zoom calls are fine for short interviews and briefing, nothing beats an honest conversation in person, particularly when discussing big and complex issues. With daily news conferences no longer part of Dan’s schedule, he is aiming to arrange at least two breakfasts a week to meet brands and PRs to chat about stories. The Mail on Sunday’s office is based in Kensington High Street, so a willingness to travel to West London will no doubt serve PRs well.

We look forward to seeing what Dan Jones brings to the Mail on Sunday – watch this space!

To watch the highlights from our recent event with Dan Jones, please see below.


Media Network: The Times’ star business columnist on his news priorities

Posted on: March 15th, 2022 by Tomas White

Harry Wallop takes over business column at The Times

Nick Collins

Harry’s first column went live today. Before publication he sat down with his former Daily Telegraph colleague, MHP Mischief’s Nick Collins.

What will your new column cover?

Anything and everything related to business, so long as it’s entertaining or thought provoking. Business is a very broad term: from the price of a cup of coffee, to economic sanctions in Russia, from the etiquette of eating fish soup at your desk to the latest mad-cap trend coming out of Silicon Valley.

Where will you take your inspiration from?

My background is very much City journalism. I’ve always found how people make money and how they lose money fascinating. I’m also amused by the sometimes pretentious, often nonsensical jargon, used by many businesses – and their PR advisors – to claim they are changing the world. Mate, you’re making a widget.

Are there any business stories or themes you want to tackle?

Trying to find wry and curious things to say about office life while World War III kicks off might be a bit of a challenge. But there’s always Elon Musk’s tweets to fall back on.

Are you interested in hearing from businesses?

Strange, but true: yes. If a business is genuinely doing something different and ground-breaking, I want to hear. If a business is running their enterprise in a new and interesting way – be it how they pay their workers, or incentivise them, or gain new customers – I’m curious to hear from them. Any new studies, documentaries or books about office life or entrepreneurship, I’m keen to hear about too.

How UK newsdesks are dealing with the challenge of Ukraine

James Rollinson and Keith Gladdis

Ukraine is dominating the news agenda, but it leaves news editors with a challenge of bringing balance to their news lists.

At the Daily Mail the news desk is pulling together two news lists each day. The Ukraine list serves up around six to seven double page spreads each day. The second contains all non-Ukraine stories and still includes the usual mix of hard news, showbiz, politics, campaigning and consumer.

The news list at The Times is split into ‘top stories’ and ‘other stories’. Normally the top section includes 4/5 different stories but during the war it’s just been Ukraine. There’s still interest in positive human-interest stories, quirky science or tech, talking points to provide much needed lightness to the paper.

At the Evening Standard Ukraine is so dominant that the news desk advises holding any non-critical stories for a couple of weeks at least. At the time of writing, the first 13 pages of the Standard are devoted to Ukraine-related news, more than half of the news section. There remains space online though, with the news desk advising that PRs pitch stories to relevant specialists and correspondents directly.

Ukraine is also dominating broadcast news. Kirsty Hickey, a producer at Ian King Live on Sky News says the programme has been off air because of Ukraine. They are currently only on the lookout for contributors who can speak about Ukraine.

The invasion of Ukraine has also taken over the business pages. MHP Mischief’s Pete Lambie looked at how the proportion of Ukraine coverage on business and city pages has also changed, demonstrating the impact of the conflict on the City and the global economy.

A revamp of the Telegraph’s features desk opens new opportunities

James Rollinson and Alan Tovey

The Telegraph is making changes to its features coverage, with more pieces dedicated to following the news agenda. Editors want to know what events mean, rather than just what happened. This is best illustrated by its open vacancy for a live editor, responsible for daily content which analyses breaking news.

This is a second bite at the cherry for those wanting to contribute to news stories. Features writers are seeking new voices and it’s a chance to put interesting people in front of them, as long as they can offer fresh takes on events that demonstrate their understanding and relevance.

The BBC’s outstanding coverage in Ukraine is the best PR

Charlotte Grant

There was much fanfare when a new BBC promotional video launched last month. Their underlying message couldn’t have been clearer: we provide value for money. It was a rallying response to ongoing criticism of bias as well as Nadine Dorries’ announcement of a licence fee freeze.

But what could be a better advert for the BBC than their Ukraine coverage? Forget the slick TV video (that even had Today presenters tittering over the tagline!) All they needed was Clive Myrie’s calm, considered analysis from a bunker in Kyiv.

The continual bravery of correspondents reporting from the frontline in Ukraine has even led to praise from MPs in Parliament, with a particularly tearful tribute from – a certain Nadine Dorries.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS – some of the key moves in news organisations you need to know

Abigail Smith

The Telegraph: Shake-up for the Business Desk with James Burton promoted to deputy business editor, and Hannah Uttley to business news editor. Szu Chan Ping – formerly BBC – is set to join as economics editor in the summer in a revamp of economics reporting. The Standard’s Oscar Williams-Grut is also coming on board in a news desk role. Banking editor, Lucy Burton, will also be moving roles in April to cover a new employment beat.

Bloomberg: Amongst a series of recent new hires, Bloomberg hires Katherine Griffiths as finance editor covering all things finance, banks, investment firms and the City. She moves having spent over a decade at The Times.

Daily Mail: Gordon Thomson will be stepping down as editor of Mail+, this comes as the supplement is expected to undergo a strategic review, suggesting there may be staff cuts to come.

Media Network: Cost of living set to dominate domestic news agenda for 2022

Posted on: March 1st, 2022 by Tomas White

All change at the Mail on Sunday as the Sun’s Dan Jones takes over the Consumer and Tech beat

Dan Jones has been the Consumer Editor at the Sun for more than a decade, next week he starts as the Consumer Affairs and Technology Editor at the Mail on Sunday.

Yesterday, he spoke exclusively to MHP + Mischief’s James Rollinson at a breakfast event at the Ivy Club in Soho.

His top tips:

  1. The cost-of-living crisis is going to be the big issue of 2022. The brands that get positive cut through will be those that are doing something to help their customers.
  2. But if you do have difficult news, don’t hide. A price rise is better handled if you are open and are willing to put it into context.
  3. Campaigns are a priority for the Mail on Sunday. Dan wants to work with brands on issues that affect his readers – but remember to think big.
  4. Come to a Sunday journalist early in the week to secure your place in the paper. An email on a Monday means he can take it into Tuesday morning conference.
  5. Good news. Journalists want to get back to meeting in person again. Zoom calls are fine for 20-minute interviews and briefings but nothing beats an honest conversation in person.

Keep an eye on our websiteTwitter and LinkedIn for a more detailed report and video from Dan’s interview.

Personal finance is the order of the day for national media

It’s not just the Mail on Sunday that is focusing on the cost-of-living crisis, writes Alan Tovey the former Industry Editor of the Daily Telegraph who has joined MHP + Mischief’s Capital Markets team.

The Daily Telegraph business desk wants at least one personal finance story on the front page each week and the Sun says personal finance stories are regularly the most read stories online.

This demonstrates the power of stories about what is hitting people’s pockets. The BBC has gone even further, renaming its Business and Economics unit to Money and Work as it decamps to Salford.

The new name is deliberate. You don’t talk about business and economics in the pub, but you do discuss work and money, which as ever is the key to any good news story.

Being an editor ‘makes you a monster’ admits MailOnline chief

In a 15-minute leaving speech, MailOnline chief Martin Clarke revealed he ‘thought he was being shafted’ when he was given the role, writes former Daily Mail news editor Keith Gladdis.

Many at Northcliffe House were shocked when Clarke announced he was leaving after 13 years in charge of the website, but there were a few raised eyebrows when he joked.

“Being an editor does make you a monster, or in my case more of a monster.”

Next week the quietly brilliant and non-monster like Danny Groom will become Acting Global Editor.

ITV looks for more human-interest stories as it extends early evening bulletin

The shake-up at ITV News will lead to major new opportunities to pitch stories to them. Part of their new hour-long evening news programme will have a dedicated slot from 7pm to do more longer-form exclusive pieces. They are interested in all sorts of stories but ITV is a very consumer-focused in their coverage so there should be a human interest angle – it has to mean something to real people.

Also, as Covid restrictions come to an end broadcast and print media outlets have quietly declared Covid dead and so is their coverage of it. Health journalists at The Sun, The Telegraph, Daily Mail and the ITV News have this week all told us their organisations are no longer interested in stories about the pandemic. They instead want to people focused human interest health stories and to explore all the topics that have been ignored while their attention was elsewhere over the last two years.

Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel quit the BBC, who’s next?

Charlotte Grant former ITN presenter and now broadcast consultant at MHP + Mischief and ex-political editor Ian Kirby look at what the departures mean for the BBC.

After losing the likes of Andrew MarrAndrew Neil and Rory Cellan-Jones, there has been talk of a brain drain at the BBC.

It was claimed Maitlis and Sopel were frustrated at the BBC’s impartiality rules or simply wanted more money. Perhaps what motivated them more was the chance to work again with Dino Sofos and his podcast production company.

But what is the future for another podcast star Laura Kuenssberg? Her stint as Political Editor ends at Easter. Friends say she’s keen to ease off the daily news agenda and focus on documentaries. If the BBC can’t create a vehicle for Laura, one of the producers she rates the highest is…Dino Sofos.

30toWatch – the biggest awards scheme for young journalists, is back

Entries are now open for 30toWatch 2022 Young Journalist Awards.

Previous winners include the Sun’s Political Editor Harry Cole, Sophy Ridge of Sky News and Ollie Shah the Associate Editor at The Sunday Times, writes Keith Gladdis.

This year our judging panel will be led by Richard Sambrook the former Director of News at the BBC. He will be joined by top journalists including Pete Clifton the Editor in Chief of PA Media and former 30toWatch winners including John Stevens the Deputy Political Editor of the Daily Mail, Kat Lay the Health Editor at the Times and Peter Campbell of the Financial Times.

It’s free to enter. To enter click 30toWatch 2022 or to nominate a young journalist please email

Why the appointment of Deborah Turness is a coup for the BBC

Posted on: January 6th, 2022 by Tomas White

Deborah Turness was my boss when I first joined ITN in 2006. A fireball of energy and creativity, she would come to the morning newsroom meeting to discuss the day’s agenda, armed with newspaper clippings, full of ideas about how to make ITV’s news coverage stand out. She was always driving home the message that ITN may be up against much bigger news beasts with more resources, but as a smaller operation we could succeed by being nimble, thinking outside the box and ultimately telling the day’s stories in the most compelling and engaging way for viewers.

Now, as the new CEO of news and current affairs at the BBC, she has arguably the most important job in British broadcast journalism. After Fran Unsworth announced her departure, there had been speculation her replacement would come from within. But in the end, the BBC broke a cycle of internal appointments and went for an external candidate – one that is used to trailblazing.

Turness brings to the role a wealth of experience. She was Editor of ITV News for nearly a decade – the first woman to hold the role. When she joined NBC News, she became the first female president of a network news division in the US. Not bad for a Brit! Her international and commercial background perhaps explains the change in title from director to CEO (and with it, a salary increase – Unsworth was on £340k and Turness will be paid £400k). The BBC says the new title is to reflect its ambition to “continue to build the BBC’s global news brand.”

As a junior, she is a boss you really want to deliver for. That kind of dedication from employees could prove crucial at a time when the BBC faces such a mighty agenda. The journey ahead for the organisation and its new recruit will be anything but easy. But with Turness’ unique blend of dynamism, business expertise and reputation for impartiality – expect an interesting ride.

In conversation with: Lionel Barber

Posted on: August 25th, 2021 by Tomas White

We were delighted to host Lionel Barber, former Financial Times Editor and author of the new book, The Powerful and the Damned. Exploring the stories behind fifteen years of global headlines, our event with Lionel is one of a series of MHP Mischief events with leading journalists, exploring both life inside the newsroom and today’s media environment, as well as the key issues facing business and communications leaders around the world.

Catch up on some of the highlights below:

A tale of two media empires

Posted on: April 30th, 2021 by Tomas White

The new editor of the Financial Times, Roula Khalaf, used her first interview with Amol Rajan’s Media Show to tell a story of growing confidence and optimism. Fresh from breaking the story about David Cameron’s lobbying on behalf of Greensill Capital, Khalaf has quickly found her feet after taking over from the long serving Lionel Barber.

After almost a decade of being the anti-Brexit newspaper, the FT is now shifting focus, bringing in more investigations, an emphasis on corporate reporting, with more exciting layouts and an increased use of data. Khalaf has established the Climate Hub and is banking on steady and stable growth under the FT subscription and paywall model.

Her next challenge, she says, is diversity. It’s a challenge: the latest research shows the average FT reader is 51 and works in finance. Khalaf believes the only way to reach a young and more diverse audience is by ensuring also its journalism reflects their world. The FT still does not have a black columnist, so diversity of the staff is also a priority for the Lebanese-born editor.

Several news groups held serious discussions about whether now was the time to begin seriously considering an end to newsprint because of the huge fall in physical sales of newspapers. However, after an initial fall the FT recovered, with its glossier FT Weekend recording double digit sales growth. For now, the group remains committed to printing its pink papers although, interestingly, the main reason cited by Khalaf was that the paper was ‘the best marketing tool’ for its journalism

This optimistic outlook is in sharp contrast to developments at News UK, home of The Sun and The Times. In an email to staff, CEO Rebekah Brooks revealed Rupert Murdoch has abandoned plans for a right-of-centre ’Fox News-lite’ here in the UK. Mrs Brooks said, “While there is consumer demand for alternative news provision, the costs of running a rolling news channel are considerable, and it is our assessment that the payback for our shareholders wouldn’t be sufficient. We need to launch the right products for the digital age.”

This is certainly true, and the global Murdoch business is enjoying success with streamed news programmes such as Fox Nation and Fox News International. But there is another reason behind this decision. Five years ago, News UK was set a challenge by Brooks and her deputy, the popular and capable David Dinsmore, to properly monetise all their brands. New revenue streams were urgently needed to stem the flow of cash from the decline of the value of adverts in their newspapers.

There have been some notable successes – subscriptions to The Times, the Sun’s Dream Team and Times Radio in particular. But the decline in ad revenue has not been stemmed and the company is having to make increasingly deep cuts to spending.

News UK is nowhere near the crisis at Reach plc, the Daily Mirror’s parent company. But it has an increasingly aggressive opponent in the campaign Stop Funding Hate, which grew out of the telephone hacking scandal in 2011. Then campaigners targeted the supermarkets, fashion brands, DIY stores and betting companies who spent millions on advertising at the News of the World. It was the threat of losing advertising revenue, rather than the reputational damage of hacking, that led to the closure of the News of the World.

In February, Stop Funding Hate announced it would campaign for an advertising boycott of the right-wing news network GB News, which launches soon. The News UK product would expect similar attention. I’m told there was a warning that incendiary content on the new television network would also lead to campaigns against advertisers in The Times and The Sun. This would be a devastating blow for a business that has spent a year fighting to preserve their print editions in lockdown.

Instead, it’s been decided a reduced streaming platform will be much safer, with personalised adverts aimed at online viewers. The test version, News to Me, will stay far away from politics and focus on entertainment. Sports shows are also in the pipeline, I hear.

For Rupert Murdoch, forty years after he bought The Times and the Sunday Times, the time has come to take the safer option.