Summarising its reinvention of
For decades, before the arrival of such investment, pretty much everything about
Now, with a dramatically restyled city centre and a thriving media industry across the entire region,
“I don’t think people look down on
“Anyone who’s been here will know it’s a really desirable place to live.”
But, if some negative preconceptions about our second city did not still linger, would there be any need for a native website called
Today, there is really no excuse for such casual prejudice. After the initial disbelief and amusement at dreary old
This is the part where
Across the 10 counties which make up the Midlands, there are nearly a dozen regional daily newspapers, 80 local weekly newspapers, numerous niche lifestyle magazines, 30 local radio stations and two regional TV broadcast areas, as well as one of the highest densities of outdoor sites outside of
Meanwhile, in the NEC, Birmingham has the biggest event destination in the country, with more than two million square feet of floor space and hundreds of shows a year, both consumer and trade.
The revitalisation of
A pitched battle between Capital’s New 96.4 BRMB and Chrysalis’ Heart 100.7, currently being won by Chrysalis, is the key feature of the city’s radio landscape.
Kerrang! picked up 256,000 listeners in October’s Rajars – from a three-month audit, having launched only in June – while Saga claimed 446,000 to show that it continues to grow, three years after launch.
The award of Centro’s £100m
At a press level, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe and the locally-run Midlands News Association dominate the West Midlands and
In agency terms, a cluster of local outfits, based largely in and around Birmingham and including Universal McCann, Total Media North, Smart Media, WAA and Golley Slater, are handling campaigns at both a local and national level once again.
“I’ve worked on the media scene here for 15 years, and when I first started, there was a number of advertising agencies working out of
“A lot of them, like McCann-Erickson, have been bought up, or just ceased to be.
The regeneration of the Midlands, and
“You can’t win in
Over the next few pages, we have turned the spotlight on three of the region’s most competitive media sectors.
Households in the
In descending order, the most advertised products in 48-sheet spots in the
“The Midlands reflects the national picture,” says John Keane, Clear Channel group head of sales, south of
“Nottingham and Leicester are the cities in the
The importance of public transport across the
Adshel has the Centro bus shelters in the
Viacom, meanwhile, operates on the Midland Metro tram network, Chiltern, Central and Arriva trains, on the inter-urban coach network and on all the buses in the
One factor which contributes greatly to the volume of traffic which comes into the city is the NEC, which, in itself, represents an enormous media opportunity. The complex has the biggest floor space of any exhibition centre in the country, with 21 interconnected halls across two million square feet.
Major events include Crufts Dog Show, the British International Motor Show, The Clothes Show Live and the BBC Good Food Show. Between these and 200 other events, the NEC attracts four million people a year.
An economic impact study conducted in 1999 revealed that activity across the venues generated £711m of expenditure by visitors in a 12-month period and supported the equivalent of nearly 22,000 full-time jobs.
Less widely reported, but no less ferocious than their constant tussle in
Within New 96.4 BRMB’s Greater Birmingham total service area, where the two stations overlap, BRMB’s reach is 536,000 with an audience share of 10.3%, against Heart 100.7’s 614,000 reach and 13% share on the same patch.
“It’s quite an interesting situation, because it’s almost a reverse of the
“We’ve got lessons to learn; there’s a danger that the market leader can become complacent if it’s not very careful, and we’re making sure we do all the right things to keep the number-one spot.”
The situation is a delicately balanced one, not least because New 96.4 BRMB’s current Rajar-measured reach is its lowest on record, and a relaunch early this year and 30th anniversary celebrations last month are aimed at turning the situation around.
“We don’t expect them to stay that low,” says Fairburn. “They’re getting their act together.”
But the competition doesn’t end there. The arrival of Kerrang!’s first terrestrial station in the region has made waves, adding 256,000 listeners to the million who tune in to the Emap station via DAB and Freeview.
Saga is also pleased it came to the Midlands, having secured a 6.2% share in October for its 105.7 West Midlands station and 6.7% for Saga 106.6, based in Nottingham. The growth of both stations has helped to keep BBC Radio 2 at bay in the region, without stealing many listeners directly from either Heart 100.7, New 96.4 BRMB or
“It’s just becoming more and more competitive,” says Sam Fielding, regional sales director for Capital Radio Group, who has responsibility for New 96.4 BRMB and its sister station,
“Even when we go in to speak to key agency staff about group business, they have absolutely got an opinion of their own about local radio. There’s more and more local business being booked out of
Kerrang! 105.2 managing director Adrian Serle relates to Fielding’s experience of Brummy civic pride. “We know that people in this area are fairly loyal, whether it’s to their football club or their radio station,” he says.
Kerrang! 105.2, which styles itself as a mainstream brand extension to its opinion forming sister magazine, is aiming to take share from all sorts of places, and to draw lapsed listeners back to radio. “The advertisers understand that we’re talking to an audience they may not have talked to before,” he says. “We may well pick up audience from other commercial operators and we hope to pick up audience from Radio 1, but there’s also a number of disillusioned radio listeners who’ll be able to tap into music they want to hear.”
Fielding says 106 Century’s main competition for revenue is from press and outdoor.
“In the East Midlands and
In press, as in the other key media, the Midlands sees its most vicious battles in the West Midlands, in general, and
While it is hard to compare Trinity Mirror’s urban Evening Mail directly against Midlands News Association’s comparatively provincial Express & Star , the friction between the London-controlled stable and the regionally-owned one makes for interesting viewing.
The Wolverhampton-based Express & Star is the highest-selling provincial evening newspaper in the country, with an ABC of 164,430 (Dec 2003-June 2004) spread across 11 local editions.
The more Brumcentric Evening Mail sells 104,219 on weekdays.
“Speaking as a punter, the Mail has tended to lag behind, which is a bit of a shame, because if you look at the strength of the Express & Star , it shows there’s a thirst for that kind of media if someone wanted to tap it in this area,” says Smart Media managing director Liam McKenna.
The Express & Star counts
“We haven’t got one big centre like the major urbanised areas of
The West Midlands is widely held to be a low readership area for the national press, and like many other regional newspapers, the Express & Star and the Evening Mail have increased their share of national business.
In the past, Trinity Mirror has been accused of stinting on its regional titles, and while an ongoing programme of editorial redundancies has caused union problems, the development of a £60m plant at
While the Evening Mail falls short of the Express & Star in circulation terms and its sister business broadsheet, The Birmingham Post, had a circulation of just 14,360 at last count, Trinity Mirror’s spread across the
“Trinity Mirror occupies a unique position in the Midlands, and
“We are the region’s single largest media provider and we deliver – through a portfolio of over 30 regional and local newspapers – an audience of more than 2.2 million. The Evening Mail out performs all daily newspapers within its area and The Birmingham Post is read by 40% of all business people in the
Northcliffe’s Leicester Mercury , Nottingham Evening Post and Staffordshire Sentinel all comfortably lead their respective regional markets – the latter two finding around 75,000 daily readers each and the former almost 90,000.
And the Johnston Press owned evening dailies, the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph and the Northampton Chronicle & Echo, hold the best part of the Northamptonshire market between them.