While in politics the axiom, ’you cannot please all of the people
all of the time’, is taken for granted, it is something Chris Stanley,
the Newspaper Society’s marketing director, must try to do.
Being pulled in 20 or 30 different directions at once makes his job one
of the toughest in the newspaper business. Stanley is, in effect, the
marketing director to multiple publishers, all of whom have their own
ideas about what he should be doing.
Last week, however, everyone seemed to be in agreement. The high point
was a significant victory for Stanley when Newsquest Media surprised the
industry with the announcement that it was to rejoin Newspaper Society
Marketing (Campaign, 14 March).
For Stanley, this success was crucial - a timely vindication of the
shake up he has instituted inside NS Marketing. Without Newsquest on
board, the game for NS Marketing could have been up. Newsquest, with its
12 per cent share of the market, would have represented a significant
force on the outside, fatally compromising the ability of NS Marketing
to speak with a single voice for the industry.
Stanley admits it was a tough task convincing Newsquest to rejoin NS
Marketing which, for years, was seen as an ineffective operation. It was
this perception that first led to Newsquest’s departure in 1995. With
Newsquest’s purchase of Westminster Press last year, it was vital that
the operation was brought back into the fold.
’There has been a huge change of attitude internally. About 80 per cent
of the team are new,’ Stanley says. ’For Newsquest, it was a case of
demonstrating value for money, to show real pay back. We have achieved
something major in demonstrating our worth.’
Roy Jeans, the managing director of Amra and an ex-Zenith Media
colleague, says that under Stanley, the marketing function has finally
moved to centre stage. ’I always thought it would take two to three
years - and he has some way to go yet - but he has done a lot and he has
done it right,’ he argues.
Stanley is convinced that it is time for the industry to jettison some
traditional ways of thinking. The blueprint of his new style was
revealed in Campaign last year. It centres on a smaller number of sales
points which make it easier for advertisers and agencies to plan and buy
national campaigns in the regional press (Campaign, 16 August 1996).
According to Stanley, it is still early days. ’We have support, but
there are people out there who do not buy into it. Some do not think it
is the way to go.’ But radical decisions are always going to cop flak.
’It is easy for people to criticise someone working in a high-profile
role,’ Philip Graf, the chief executive of Trinity Newspapers,
Stanley is still selling his ideas as plans are discussed by the largest
publishers in the industry. He acknowledges that the changes, and their
radical nature, are not going to be easy to achieve in one go.
What everyone seems to agree is that Stanley is the man for the job.
’It’s a bit like Terry Venables and England,’ Jeans says. Charles Brims,
the chief executive of Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers and chairman
of the NS marketing strategy group, agrees. ’You feel that if he can’t
do it, no one can,’ he says.
’I was involved in the selection process for the position. We were
looking for someone who not only had experience of newspapers, but also
of advertising agencies and advertisers. We were very fortunate to find
As a politics undergraduate, Stanley’s ambition was to become a
political journalist. However, after interviews with Boots and Cadbury
Schweppes, the offer of a free tube pass from London Transport
Advertising swung his decision. It was there, he says, he caught the
marketing bug - and he hasn’t looked back since.
Even with such a difficult task in hand, Stanley is surprisingly
sanguine about the future. ’There is a great myth about the regional
press,’ he says. ’Some people write us off as a dying industry but they
miss the point. What we are talking about is a series of strong local
franchises. Printing newspapers is only one of them. There are fantastic
It is all a far cry from the life of a political journalist, which was
the young politics graduate’s original ambition.
He just forgot to give it back.
The Stanley file
1983 London Transport, advertising sales executive.
1987 Amra, national account manager.
1988 A Plus Media, founding partner.
1988 Zenith Media, regional director.
1991 Emap Regional Newspapers, marketing manager.
1992 Thomson Regional Newspapers, marketing director, Western Mail and
1995 Thomson Media Sales, national advertising director.
1995 Newspaper Society, marketing director.