Business — Banking — Management — Marketing & Sales

Using the UK business press, and other ways to raise your company’s profile

Category: Business in Great Britain

The UK has a long and proud tradition of objective, analytical business journalism. From the flagship Financial Times, perhaps the most highly regarded and widely read business daily in the world, through the business sections of the national daily newspapers, to the myriad newsletters and bulletins published by the Chambers of Commerce, Trade Federations and consultancy firms, a huge volume and variety of high-quality information and analysis is made available both within the UK and internationally.

Objectivity is key if an article is to be published, let alone read. Much is made in the UK of the political leanings of various newspapers — and this may be obvious if editorials in The Daily Telegraph are contrasted with those in The Guardian.

However, generally speaking, the political persuasions of the editor or owner of a newspaper do not spill over onto its business pages. Equally, there is no tradition in the UK of the “paid article” about a company (inevitably focussing on its successes) which is unfortunately seen all too often in FSU printed media. In the UK, journalists write articles, and editors accept articles for publication, based solely on their newsworthiness…..well, almost.

All this means that if you want to obtain some publicity for your company in the UK national press, and you want that publicity to be good (perhaps as part of a campaign to raise investor awareness), then:

▼ run a successful company in a proper way;

▼ make news; but

▼ (unless your company is a world leader) realise that a journalist may find the idea of writing an article about your industry more interesting than one about your company…however that does open up the possibility of your company being featured as a success story, or a source of information, within the article.

One key factor, often not appreciated by businesspeople from the FSU, is that the readership of the key UK financial newspapers and journals is largely comprised of the investment and financial community. Journalists know that these readers have little time, and therefore little interest in private companies. Readers want the latest news about publicly-traded companies. Why? To make informed investment decisions.

So a major announcement by a substantial public company, which is likely to have an effect on the company’s valuation, will immediately find space in all the major financial journals. An announcement by a relatively small FSU company from a region unknown to the UK business community (even some very clever people in the City of London are quite ignorant about the geography of the former Soviet Union) will not.

Strategic News Media Relations

So even if you are Gazprom, Lukoil or Mr Abramovich, there is really no point in just sending a press release to 20+ UK journalists and relying on it being published. Your approach has to be much more sophisticated and much more strategic.

▼ Hire a good specialist communications agency — one that not only understands how the UK press works, but also has some knowledge of your business and your country.

▼ Ensure you have an excellent “press pack” available (information in English, written by a native English speaker, up to date, imaginatively presented statistics, etc.). Yes, this will cost some money to produce, but without one you may as well not start your campaign.

▼ As noted above, be prepared to give a general perspective on your country and/or your industry as opposed to focussing solely on your company. The UK press has been full in recent years of rather negative articles about Russia and the FSU. The cynic would say that only negative news sell newspapers. But the tide is turning, and as the countries of the FSU continue to emerge onto the world stage, so readers and editors will have a greater appetite for more positive articles which combine a general message with a particular story — and that story could be yours.

▼ With the help of your advisers, pitch the right story to the right publication. The Financial Times is not the only medium through which you can convey your messages. If you are a manufacturing company or a trading company looking to build business relationships, perhaps consider as a first step placing an article in the journal of the Trade Federation which co-ordinates your industry in the UK? For another type of business from the FSU it may for example be more useful to get something published in Business Voice, the magazine published by the Confederation of British Industry. For some companies, a combination of approaches may work — national financial newspapers, trade publications, perhaps even the lifestyle media.

▼ Use contacts in the investment community to refine and develop your messages — the analysts have valuable insider knowledge on what the market wants to know and how a story is best positioned. If you yourselves are not able to penetrate this somewhat closed world, talk to people who already have the contacts.

Not Just Traditional Media — Or Media Alone

The Chambers of Commerce within UK, both the bilateral Chambers such as the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce and the regional Chambers, also publish useful and widely read Bulletins, and any press relations campaign should certainly include approaches to their editors. They are often very receptive to ideas for articles focussing on developing markets and up and coming companies with whom their members may form liaisons.

There are also other strategies for raising the profile of your company in London. Strategic speaking opportunities, institutional advertising, targeted sponsorships and other strategic communications programmes can also heighten the awareness of your company among analysts and investors. These programmes can help to define your company, and even more important, raise the profile and credibility of your management team.

A subjective, non-exhaustive, list of the key national business newspapers and journals, ranked in descending order based on the space and focus they devote to business matters, follows:

The Financial Times

The Times

The Daily Telegraph

The Sunday Times

The Independent

The Independent on Sunday

The Guardian

The Observer

And some of the key business magazines, in the FSU context, are:

The Economist


Institutional Investor



Russian Investment Review

Wire services include:





European Press Agency

Financial News

And television & radio:



CNN Business Europe


Business Conferences

Over the last few years, the number of business conferences / seminars /summits / for a devoted to Russia, Ukraine and other CIS markets has increased faster than the Chelsea FC wage bill. The region’s business people could certainly be forgiven for allowing the onset of conference apathy. However, it should be kept in mind that events of this nature (at least the good ones) can be extremely useful occasions for people to develop new contacts and raise the profile of their companies.

I therefore list below some of the better established, and generally well attended, conferences devoted to the region. You should at least be aware of them, even if participation is not always practicable. It is not an exhaustive list. Dates and venues are subject to change. Expect a sharp increase in the number of Ukraine-related events in 2005-2006.

Sachs Bloomberg Russia / CIS Investment conference, March, New York

Adam Smith Ukrainian Investment Summit, March, London

Russian Economic Forum, April, London

RBCC UK-St Petersburg Investment conference, Spring, St Petersburg

Renaissance Capital Russian Equity conference, June, Moscow

RBCC Russian Business Summit, June, London

Brunswick UBS Russian Equity conference, September, Moscow

Sachs Bloomberg Investing in Russia & CIS, Autumn, London

Russian Investment Symposium, November, Washington DC / Boston

Taking maximum advantage of conferences

The key is to get yourself on the speaking platform. These days, that may involve sponsoring an element of the conference programme. Conference organisers want to make money too. It is in my view unfortunate, but a reality, that in choosing a speaker list they often favour those who are prepared to sponsor the event. That aside, let us presume you are given a speaking slot. How do you take maximum advantage ? How do you deliver the key messages about your company ? How do you ensure a queue of people wanting your business card at the end of your presentation? Whole books have been written about public speaking. Space here limits me to passing on my Ten Golden Rules:

Keep your presentation short — definitely do not overrun your allotted time.

▼ Be enthusiastic — if you do not seem interested, the audience definitely will not be.

▼ Engage the audience — establish eye contact, ask rhetorical questions, etc.

▼ Be brave — break the mould — grab people’s attention with a novel approach.

▼ Use your Powerpoint presentation (if you must have one) as a tool, do not be a slave to it.

▼ Practice beforehand, but not so often that you lose spontaneity.

▼ Speak much slower than you normally would — especially if you are being interpreted.

▼ Avoid masses of numbers / graphs / statistics and impenetrable Powerpoints. If you are apologising (“this slide may be hard to see from the back”), you should not be using it.

▼ DO NOT READ a pre-written presentation, especially if the audience can simultaneously read it in the conference materials.

▼ If in doubt, get some tuition — some people are naturals, but all can improve with assistance.

PBN can help.

TREVOR BARTON, The PBN Company, London

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