A Manchester PR agency’s dream: Byline Times is a new UK paper with big ambitions

Manchester PR agency

Print is dead, they said. Nobody reads papers, another kept chirping on Twitter . Nevertheless, as this Manchester PR agency is happy to see, some are ignoring the odds.

Just last week we posted a blog on the power of print, and how a PR agency can better work alongside newspaper journalists. Now we’ve got wind of Byline Times, which has just launched. Running at 32-pages, the slogan is: ‘What The Papers Don’t Say’.

We’ve written several times on the decline of trust in mainstream media. This outlet is clearly looking to exploit that public scepticism. It’s focus will apparently be dirty money in politics, the far and alt-right, and the inadequacies of news agencies.

But are we ready, or even interested?

This Manchester PR agency says yes

OK, OK. Realistically the PR opportunities presented by a newspaper clearly focussed on investigative reporting are limited. Nevertheless, we welcome any expansion of any media area, especially one labelled ‘in decline’ for more than 20 years. The publication’s background also intrigues us.

Byline Times has been founded by Peter Jukes, a prominent playwright who became an outspoken critic of the press amid the trials of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. Stephen Colegrave is also involved, former executive at Saatchi & Saatchi and a punk rocker in earlier years. UK comedy legend John Cleese, AKA Basil Fawlty and another anti-press head, is amongst the columnists.

Manchester PR agency

Will we buy?

This is the real question. As any music journalist will tell you, not to mention staff at the ill-fated New Day, interest does not equal sales. Currently, Byline Times is running a monthly print cycle, its cover price £2.50. This will switch to weekly from March 2020, but we’d say the cost might need to fall to secure a more regular readership.

However, loyalty is now a major editorial currency. Big hitters like The Guardian and The Times are increasingly reliant on subscriptions to recoup plummeting ad sales. Byline Times’ success will therefore hinge on worthwhile content appealing directly to those it wants to reach.

New media model, old medium

Byline Times is aided by a three-day event. Dubbed ‘Byline Festival’, it hits the South Downs this August. 6,000 ticket-holders will attend for talks on media and politics. They may still be using newsprint, then, but management have clearly seen how this idea has bolstered, and in some cases even saved, niche publications. Branded and partnered events are now pre-requisites at many magazines, for example.

Whether this all works remains to be seen, then. But we won’t be the only Manchester PR agency waiting to see what happens.


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