Those of us who have found our way on to Estates Gazette's mailing list are used to the regular flurries of emails about this and that, from video tours of Edinburgh office blocks, to speaker lists for some curious event aimed at a niche within a niche.
Such flyers are normally dignified and serene in tone, befitting the tweedy grandfather of property trade publishing; but increasingly less so. A week ago EG issued an abnormally aggressive message to readers about its latest ABC readership figures. It was entirely an attack on its chief rival, Property Week (for which I write occasionally, and I have also written for EG, confessions over…), stating EG has more readers, at a higher average price and gives away less free copies. All of which is true, otherwise ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) wouldn't publish it.
There is clarity in the timing also – PW has undergone a major redesign which debuts today.
EG faces the prospect of upheaval after the departure of long-time editor Peter Bill and the arrival of Damian Wild from Accountancy Age as the new editorial boss during the summer. EG looks dried out and drab and will need an injection of some strong Wild stuff sooner rather than later.
It is arguable that PW has also stolen goodwill in the regions from EG over recent years – more than 60% of PW's circulation is outside London/SE, said to be far more than EG, with a West End focused readership – and turns heads with people-based features such as how to lose weight in the property industry and superior overseas coverage.
More critically, nowhere did EG's rant touch on the fact its website comes with a £650+VAT annual price tag. PW's is free and always will be – and has more readers as a result. EG has no regional writer based in the North West. David Quinn has gone and David Thame now lives outside the region.
The other thing that sprang to mind when raising the eyebrows at EG's tone was the quip often levelled at the Western Mail, Wales's national paper, when I was a trainee on the Daily Post in Liverpool, which boasted a best-selling North Wales edition. The management could often be seen tutting at ABC tables and commenting that everyone in Wales had the Western Morning News delivered but no one read it. Next time you wander into a big agency office and see the stack of mags in reception check how well thumbed – or how interesting – EG feels.