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Editor's letter: A question of value

Despite spending a good deal of my working days following closely the diverging strategies of media owners as they address the paid content conundrum, never has the question been quite so sharply in focus than it is this morning.

Rich Sutcliffe is editor of Brand Republic

Rich Sutcliffe is editor of Brand Republic

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Following months of deliberation, research, business planning, ideology questioning even, today we announce that Brand Republic and the group of business titles it brings together online will move from a free-to-access to a paid content model.

It feels somewhat momentous. It isn’t, really.

We have in the region of 60 full time editorial staff, plus a host of freelancers, working across the print and digital publications that deliver an unrivalled service to the UK marketing and communications industry.  

In addition, there are the sales, events and conferences, central production and digital teams working across Brand Republic and the wider Haymarket Business Media portfolio.  

There is clearly a substantial cost attached to such an operation. But the question, ultimately, is one of the value we ascribe to our current service and the increased investment we wish to make to develop our output in response to reader demand for continuously improving digital products.

We value the journalism that goes into delivering the coverage our readers expect and we believe the advertising, media, marketing and PR professionals we devote our resources to servicing also value it.

It is a service, under varying guises, Haymarket has been providing to marketing communications professionals for the best part of 50 years.  

We also want to invest in our journalism and in further developing our intelligence and business critical information services, whether that’s in data and research products, or the expansion of our digital portfolio across the increasing number of platforms our readers expect us to have a presence on.  

The re-introduction of digital subscriptions - it was, after all, only five years ago Brand Republic switched from a paid to a free model – on a metered approach is the best way for us to continue investing in improved business information services for our audience, for the next 50 years and beyond.  

We work with a specific business community in mind, and it’s fair to say a smaller one than the 700,000 plus, and growing, readers we attract online every month.  

With such a large and diverse readership, we are acutely aware that when we start asking people to pay for content that they currently get for free it will not be done without creating discontent in some quarters.  

We have opted for a metered approach to news that will allow our less frequent readers to continue to enjoy their experience.  

And while the idea of erecting paywalls might initially feel momentous, the idea of asking core readers - for whom we provide a service of daily value to their businesses and their professional careers - to pay for access to our digital publications in the way they have paid for our print products for many years, so that we in turn can invest in new and improved services to deliver an increasingly valuable return for them, feels, well, a bit more like common sense.

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