The Spectator to publish Conservative Party magazine

Conrad Black's right-wing weekly, The Spectator, has grabbed the contract to publish the Conservative Party's membership magazine, Heartland, after a pitch against an undisclosed number of agencies.

Heartland caused controversy when launched as a quarterly, through Rap Publishing, in November 2000. Premier Media Partners had originally been tasked with developing the title but disagreements with the party's head of membership marketing, Jane Keene, brought the relationship to an end.

The editor hired by PMP remained with the magazine.

The Spectator was approached by Conservative central office and invited to pitch for the account, though it is not clear what other publishers were involved in the review. Heartland marks The Spectator's first foray into customer publishing, an area that has recently attracted attention from other consumer publishers such as Conde Nast and The National Magazine Company.

"This is our first project and we'd be hopeful for more in the future," The Spectator's publisher, Kimberly Fortier, said.

Fortier will serve as the publisher for Heartland. However, the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail columnist Martin Vander Weyer will be drafted in to edit the title. A separate ad sales department is also being recruited for Heartland in a bid to expand revenue.

"Advertising will be a big part of it, Fortier said. "It's a fantastic consumer base - the backbone of middle Britain - and this is a very good opportunity for advertisers."

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