Media briefing with The Scotsman

12 September 2017

Frank O’Donnell, editor and editorial director of The Scotsman, talked exclusively at yesterday’s Cision media briefing about the brand’s 200 year anniversary, its digital growth and how its editorial team produces content.

The Scotsman’s 200th birthday was just one of the reasons why the title is special, according to O’Donnell. “It’s special because of the 200 years. It’s special because of the city [Edinburgh] we are in. The readers are really loyal – they care very passionately about the title. When you make a change in the paper, they are very, very quick to tell you what they think about it.”

A lot of ground was covered during the briefing. Here are just some of the key points that PRs should know:

1. The Scotsman takes pride in being part of its community

“I want Scotland to be a country that does well,” O’Donnell said. “I want our businesses to do well. I want our trains to run on time, our buses to run on time.”

He added: “It’s not always about pointing out the negative. I like to think: ‘What are we doing to help Scotland function well?’ I think that’s what our readers want.”

2. A third of the title’s digital audience comes from overseas

O’Donnell said digital media has had a big impact on The Scotsman, as people want to know what is happening in the country.

“A third of our audience online comes from overseas. I know when I worked overseas I always felt a little bit more Scottish than I do here,” he joked. “My accent seemed to become a little bit stronger!”

3. When pitching stories, email is best

The team produces content for The Scotsman, the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday, but they all communicate regularly.

“Don’t phone three times!” O’Donnell recommended. “If [a pitch] can’t be sold successfully in a brief email then it probably isn’t a story.”

For reporters on The Scotsman, the day can start at 6am with key news meetings at 11am and 3:30pm.

4. The best stories have a human angle

Melissa Clark, account manager at Indigo, was in the audience at the event and praised O’Donnell for speaking so candidly about the highs and lows of the industry.

“I left with a better understanding of how to continue work with journalists to get stories for my clients out there,” she said. “Focusing on the human side of stories and building on my relationships with journalists.”


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