Newsquest announces winners of annual Excellence Awards

Newsquest Media Group has announced the winners of its annual prestigious Excellence Awards, with Brighton Argus’s Arron Hendy named Editor of the Year.

Henry Faure Walker, CEO of Newsquest, told staff: “With all the focus on dealing with the pandemic, keeping people safe, moving the business to working from home and furlough, it didn’t seem the right time to announce and celebrate the 2019 Newsquest Excellence Award winners in March, as we would normally have done.

“I can’t say that we’re out of the woods yet and it will be some time before business returns to a more normal footing, but I didn’t want to leave it any longer to formally announce and recognise some outstanding achievements we saw in 2019. The Covid-19 crisis has underlined how important the work you, our staff do, is to communities and local businesses up and down the country. And it’s only right that we take the opportunity to formally recognise this.

“So without further delay, I am proud to announce:

Publishing Centre of the Year (2019) goes to Newsquest Sussex (Brighton)! A stand out achievement for the Brighton team was digital revenue which they grew by over 25%, supported by over £200k of new digital marketing services (DMS) revenue.

This meant that their total revenues across their whole business were only down 3%. The team turned round a loss making performance in 2018 to a profit of almost £250k, proving that they are well on the way to becoming a sustainable digital news brand. Runner up was Basingstoke & Andover whose exceptional team, led by Katie French, Rob Gooding and Bill Browne, have transformed this business.

Arrron Hendy

The Brighton Argus was also the best performing daily site last year in terms of page view growth to the extent that its total editorial costs were almost entirely covered by the digital revenue generated from national programmatic revenues.

Since taking the helm as Editor three years ago, Arron Hendy has put the Brighton Argus firmly on the UK’s local media map as one of the best campaigning and digitally innovative news brand, and Newsquest Editor of the Year goes to Arron Hendy, Editor, Newsquest Sussex. Runner up was Vanessa Sims of the Barrow Mail.

Vanessa Sims

Newsquest News Brand of the Year award goes to the Barrow Mail. When we purchased the Barrow Mail as part of our acquisition of CN Group in 2018, the title was loss making and staring down the barrel of potential closure. Through the leadership of Editor, Vanessa Sims, and a superb commercial team led by Lee Taylor-Craddock, and Rob Wood on newspaper sales, the Barrow Mail is back on a sustainable footing, doing really important and impactful journalism in the Barrow community. Last year its circulation performance was one of the best in the group, digital audience was up 60% and digital revenues up 100%. On the editorial side, the small team has focussed their efforts on hard news, crime and court and for softer content, established a network of contacts across the district, taking content from a range of reliable news sources. This community content network now supplies more than 50% of The Mail’s content each day. Runner up was the fantastic St Helens Star.

Stephanie Wareham

Newsquest Journalist of the Year goes to Stephanie Wareham. Stephanie from the Bucks Free Press broke a series of hard hitting stories last year and covered with great skill and sensitivity the disappearance and murder investigation of local student Libby Squire. Her digital prowess saw her online articles account for over one third of the Bucks Free Press page views last year. Runner up was Adam Everett from the Warrington Guardian.

Newspaper Sales of the Year Award goes to Rob Wood of Newsquest Cumbria, who has been instrumental in turning round the Cumbria titles’ circulation performance whilst also supporting new launches. Runner up was Marie Rushall — who leads on our south coast titles as well as running the Group’s newspaper sales retail hub.

Sales Leader of the Year was Steve Lowe of Bradford. This was an incredibly competitive category to judge. Above all, Steve led an outstanding team performance and a major shift to a digitally focused sales centre. He has led from the front as a sales leader, and as a rainmaker generated new business from stakeholders across the Braford community. Runner up was Lee Taylor-Craddock of the mighty Newsquest Cumbria.

Across the group, Newsquest made huge progress in digital last year — with digital display revenues up 16% year on year, on top of £4 million of new DMS revenue. Digital Sales Centre of the Year went to Bradford who delivered a massive 86% increase in their digital revenues and finished the year with 50% of their total advertising being generated from digital. Runner up was Carlisle.

Julie Price from Newsquest North East was Newsquest Sales Person of the Year. Julie combines an incredibly strong self-development ethic (for example, immersing herself in the DIPLOMAiQ digital training programme), with an outstanding track record in digital sales. Runner up was Phil McGann of Southampton.

The 2019 Digital Marketing Services Award goes to Richard Dowling of Newsquest North West. Richard has grown his DMS book to almost £50k per month, and has been particularly adept at securing and growing revenues from difficult accounts. He is a great example of why we see so much potential for us in DMS. Runners up to this award were Lucy Bacon and Nick Tinsley.

Group Support Employee of the Year was Crystal Hargood of our internal recruitment team, who had a tremendously positive impact finding news sales talent for our business. “An absolute delight to work with, a great team player, and a relentless approach to recruiting the very best talent” was typical of the many statements of support she received in the nominations for this award. Her tenacity and good humour under pressure made her a stand out candidate. Runner up was Ben Jones of the Newspaper Sales customer contact centre.

Innovator of the Year goes to David Ward of Newsquest Scotland. David leads the Scottish commercial team with ideas that are creative and bold, delivering commercial content campaigns that would outclass many leading creative ad agencies. Take for example, the ‘Bank on Us’ campaign — inserting a bag into every edition of The Glasgow Times to collect donations for food banks across the city. The Glasgow team provide solutions that enable advertisers to tell their own powerful stories within the trusted and engaging environment that our news brands provide. Runner up was Steve Lowe.

Jody Doherty-Cove

Apprentice of the Year was Jody Doherty-Cove, a trainee reporter in our Brighton team. Jody has fast built a reputation for using his initiative to dig out great local stories. One such gutsy example was when a visit to the cinema led to him witnessing the assault of a homeless person. Jody called the police and videoed the assault, leading to the arrest and conviction of the attacker. Jody’s attitude and aptitude for being an always on, digitally smart local reporter make him a worthy winner. Runner up was Nathan Atkinson of the Bradford news team.

Newsquest’s regional magazine business, specifically the Living brand, had a phenomenal year — building to over 30 regional editions and generating revenues of over £7 million Magazine publisher of the Year goes to Midlands South with a quality Living magazine that got stronger each edition and achieved revenues up 33% on the previous year. Runner up was North West and North Wales who successfully launched new Livings into their local markets.

Finally, the Newsquest Unsung Hero of the Year award goes to Debbie Hellaby of Newsquest Dorset. Debbie joined the Dorset Echo thirteen years ago and has been a lynchpin of the Dorset team ever since. In addition to her newspaper sales day job, Debbie will invariably go the extra mile to help out — whether that’s managing office moves, systems training, volunteering to be regional brand ambassador for LOCALiQ, or teaching herself web coding so she could publish content to drive commercial events. Runner up was Aaron Regan of Group Publishing Services, an absolute stalwart of the improvements to our ad booking system and rates.

I am sure everyone will join me in congratulating these brilliant winners and runners up.

Social distancing prevents us holding a physical Awards event this year, but we will arrange a video get together with you all shortly to celebrate your success. Winners receive £1,000. We will also get a bottle of champagne for individual winners and runners-up delivered to your homes, to help you celebrate.

Thank you to ALL our staff for the work you do — day in, day out — providing trusted news to your communities and helping local businesses grow. It’s not an easy time but you are doing an outstanding job and you make us proud.”



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